It took a career game from Jerami Grant and the continuation of an impressive hot streak by Anfernee Simons for the Portland Trail Blazers to halt a four-game skid, as an injured Damian Lillard enjoyed the dynamic performances from the bench.
Grant and Simons will attempt to follow up Friday’s big efforts against the Knicks when they visit the Brooklyn Nets to wrap up a four-game road trip Sunday afternoon.
Portland improved to 1-2 on its road trip following a wild 132-129 overtime win against the Knicks.
Lillard is accompanying the team on the trip as he recovers from a strained right calf that has kept him sidelined for the past three games and for eight games overall. Portland is 4-4 in the games Lillard has missed.
Grant scored a career-high 44 points on 10-of-20 shooting and a 21-of-28 night from the line as the Blazers attempted 51 free throws — the most in the NBA since Memphis went to the line 50 times on July 31, 2020 against Portland. It also was the most trips to the line for the Blazers since getting there 50 times against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 13, 1999.
“That was a must-win for us,” said Grant, who set a team record for free throw attempts. “We were talking about it in the locker room — we knew we had to show up and be extremely aggressive.”
Portland took 24 of its trips to the line in the second quarter when it erased a 16-point deficit to take a one-point lead at halftime. Then the Blazers saw Simons score 23 of his season-high 38 points after halftime, marking the eighth straight time the guard reached 20 points.
“I had to play those guys so many minutes to do whatever we could to try to get the win, try to stop the bleeding from the losing streak,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said.
The Nets are starting a season-high seven-game homestand after following up a 112-98 win in Toronto with a 128-117 loss at Indiana on Friday.
Brooklyn is returning home through Dec. 9 after getting outscored 40-23 in the fourth quarter by the Pacers. The Nets entered the final 12 minutes holding a six-point lead but allowed Indiana to shoot 63 percent (12 of 19) and make 12 of 16 free throws to pull away.
Kevin Durant scored 20 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter while Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving, who each scored 20 points combined for three points in the fourth.
“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Simmons, who is averaging 15.5 points in his past six contests. “You’ve gotta take that next step. It’s easy for us to lock in for that first half, three quarters, whatever it is. We’ve got to learn how to do that the whole game, from the first to the last guy.”
The Nets are attempting to sweep the season series for the first time since 2012-13. Brooklyn rallied from an 11-point deficit for a 109-107 win in Portland on Nov. 17 when Royce O’Neal hit a putback in the final seconds.
–Field Level Media