PORTLAND Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 40 points and the Trail Blazers beat the Dallas Mavericks 140-123 on Sunday night, giving Portland consecutive wins for the first time since mid-December.
It was the second game of a back-to-back between the teams. Portland snapped a five-game losing streak with a 136-119 victory on Saturday in the first.
The Mavericks rested star Luka Doncic, who had a season-low 15 points in 35 minutes in Saturday night’s loss. But it came after a double-overtime win against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Thursday, when he played 53 minutes and had 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists.
Doncic has missed five games this season, all second games of back-to-backs.
Doncic’s absence did not necessarily make it easy for the Blazers, who led by just 98-96 heading into the final quarter. But Jusuf Nurkic’s 3-pointer pushed the Blazers’ lead to 118-103 with 8:09 left and Portland cruised the rest of the way.
“Any time you’re coming off a tough stretch of games where you’re losing, you’re just searching for a win. We got one last night, a really good win,” Lillard said. “It’s always tough to beat a team twice. They had a couple of guys out, but we still had to be sharp and locked in mentally regardless of who was out there.”
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Mavericks with 28 points and nine assists.
The Mavericks were also without Tim Hardaway Jr., who hurt his ankle late in Saturday’s game. But Christian Wood started after missing the first game against Portland with a sore ankle and finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds.
“It comes down to our defense. We’ve got give a better effort, unless we’re just going to be an offensive team where we’re just going to try and score 140 every night,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said.
The Blazers welcomed back forward Nassir Little, who was sidelined since Nov. 29 with a hip injury.
“We’re definitely happy to have Nas back. We haven’t had a lot of practice time to execute practice together. But it’s good to have him back, for sure,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said.
Little came into the game with 8:34 left in the first half. He finished with 10 points in 16 minutes.
The Mavericks were within 33-31 going into the second quarter, but Portland stretched the lead to 42-34 on Gary Payton II’s 3-pointer. The Blazers led by as many as 12 points and were up 61-54 at halftime.
Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer got Dallas within 63-62 early in the third quarter. Wood’s layup put the Mavs in front but it was short-lived and Portland went up 86-79 after Little hit a 3-pointer.
“I think it was good for us to feel good about what we’re doing,” Lillard said.
Mavericks: Hardaway’s injury stings for the Mavs, who have already been beset by injuries with Josh Green, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith all currently out. … It was the last of a five-game trip.
Trail Blazers: Portland lost the first two games of the series against the Mavericks this season, both in Dallas. … The last time the Blazers won consecutive games was in mid-Dec. 10-14, when they won three straight, two against Minnesota and one against San Antonio.
With Doncic out, Kidd was asked if it’s difficult to find a rhythm without him.
“I think the guys are starting to get used to him when he is out,” Kidd said. “If this was just the first time or second time, sometimes it could be a little hesitant or you’re trying to get a rhythm. But I think with the games that he’s missed, the guys understand what they have to do when he’s not playing.”
Mavericks: Return home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
Trail Blazers: Visit the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday before returning home for a six-game homestand.