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Lillard’s 42 points power Blazers Past Hawks

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Damian Lillard put up 42 points for the Portland Trail Blazers who escaped past the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday, January 31 (Philippine time). He also had six assists.

Anfernee Simons’ tiebreaking three-pointer, aided by a pass from Lillard, sealed the win for the Blazers.

Dejounte Murray, for his part, put up a strong performance for the Hawks, tallying 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists despite playing without Trae Young due to an ankle injury. Jerami Grant added 22 points for the Blazers.

Simons, in an AP report, said: “I wasn’t really expecting the ball but I was prepared for it. Usually, they don’t help off me like that. (DeAndre Hunter) helped way off and I got pretty much an easy 3 to get off. It was as easy as it comes.”

Lillard demonstrated a willingness to share the ball and set up his teammates.

Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic hit 23 markers off the bench.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan said each possession counts but they failed.

In the fourth quarter, the Blazers saw their lead shrink to a mere one-point margin after the Hawks tied the game at 119 on Murray’s free throws. But Lillard managed to drive to the basket and regain the lead, only for Murray to tie it again from the foul line.

The tide turned in favor of the Blazers after Simons hit a decisive three-pointer, putting them ahead.

Despite Bogdanovic being fouled on a 3-pointer attempt with 27.1 seconds left, he only made one out of three at the line, but Portland’s lead was secured with Grant’s two successful free throws.

Bogdanovic attempted another three at the other end, but missed, sealing the game for the Blazers.

The Trail Blazers clinched the victory thanks to a free throw from Josh Hart and two from Lillard. Lillard was perfect from the line, hitting all 17 of his foul shots.

Hart made a significant impact, finishing with nine points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Despite losing the rebounding battle 45-29 and being outscored 21-3 in second-chance points, Portland managed to secure the win.

In an interview with AP, Lillard expressed that he would prefer to learn and improve through wins. He acknowledged the need to focus on better boxing out, making contact with opponents, and reducing the number of second-chance opportunities.

In the first half of the game, Lillard contributed 22 points to Portland’s lead, resulting in a 64-60 advantage over Atlanta at halftime. Murray, on the other hand, had 20 points before the intermission.

The Portland Trail Blazers received a boost from rookie Shaedon Sharpe during the game. The 19-year-old’s chase-down block on Dejounte Murray energized the crowd in the late third quarter.

Sharpe also made an impact with two alley-oop dunks and a near miss that elicited the most enthusiastic response from the spectators. He ended the game with 10 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes of playing time as a substitute player.

Lillard took advantage of the situation by making three successful free throw attempts, increasing the Blazers’ lead to seven. He continued his scoring streak by ending the quarter with five consecutive points, putting Portland ahead 99-92 going into the fourth quarter.

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