Lillard scores 33, Trail Blazers beat Pacers 111-102
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Damian Lillard punched Indiana in the gut right out of the gate and the Pacers never recovered.
He scored 20 of his 33 points in the first quarter to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 111-102 victory over Indiana on Sunday.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel noted Lillard playing close to the same level as Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry - which Lillard made clear isn't what he's trying to do.
''I don't impersonate anybody, I was being Damian Lillard,'' he said. ''I've been just trying to come out and be in attack mode and set the tone from the start of games. It's just been necessary to go out there and be in attack mode and get our team in that aggressive mindset.''
The surging Trail Blazers have won 13 of 15 games while the Pacers have struggled to put more than two wins together since winning three straight in December.
Lillard this month became the second player in franchise history to score at least 30 points in five straight games. He has scored 30 or more in seven of the last eight games. He scored 15 points in the first quarter on his way to a 31-point night against Chicago on Saturday. Lillard got off to a hot start against Indiana, too, and did most of his damage in the opening quarter to help Portland take an early lead.
''He had a good rhythm,'' Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ''I thought he worked really hard for his points in Chicago, I thought tonight, he was just feeling it.''
Lillard had plenty of help, too.
CJ McCollumn and Gerald Henderson each scored 19 points for the Trail Blazers, who have won 8 of 9 games.
Monta Ellis had 18 points and Jordan Hill added 15 off the bench for the Pacers, who have lost three of four games.
Meyers Leonard finished with 17 points and made four 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer to give the Trail Blazers an 87-77 lead at the end of the third quarter. Then Leonard opened the fourth with a basket and two more 3-pointers to give Portland a 95-79 lead with 10:16 remaining.
''We didn't stay with anybody on the defensive end and they got too many open looks,'' Vogel said. ''We needed to contain their guards better and regulate their screens better.''
The long ball has hurt Indiana on both sides of the floor lately. Each of the Pacers' last three opponents - New York, Charlotte and Portland - are a combined 38-of-78 on 3-point shooting while the Pacers are just 10-of-48. The Trail Blazers made 14 3s on Sunday and the Pacers only had three.
Trail Blazers: By halftime Portland made five 3-pointers. ... The Trail Blazers swept the season series with Indiana for the second straight year. Portland beat the Pacers 123-111 back on Dec. 3.
Pacers: George Hill finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. ... Paul George scored 11 points and was 0-of-4 from 3-point range. Indiana was just 3-of-14 on 3-pointers.
Portland is at New York on Tuesday.
Indiana is at Cleveland on Monday.