Lillard’s lay-up lifts Blazers over Suns

Robinson has strong game off the bench

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer



Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket past Phoenix Suns small forward P.J. Tucker (17) to score the winning basket late in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Portland, Ore. The Blazers won the game 90-89. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

PORTLAND — Damian Lillard had mentioned coming into Wednesday’s game that he needed to be better at finishing around the basket.

The night was once again frustrating for Lillard around the basket as he was 3-for-12 from the field before the final shot with 6.5 seconds left that gave the Trail Blazers a 90-89 win over the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center.

With the game on the line, Lillard dug a little deeper to explode high and win the game after getting around a LaMarucs Aldridge screen with three other shooters on the court.

“I mean it’s one play,” he said. “One play to win or lose the game. I came off it fast. I attacked hard and I picked the ball up and knew I was going to have to explode. That’s just what it was. When the game is on the line, you have to be able to step up. You have to take everything up a notch.”

However, Lillard’s game-winner would not have happened had it not been for the spark provided by the player picked one place ahead of him in the 2012 NBA Draft.

“Obviously, Thomas Robinson came in and give us a lot of energy and got us back into the game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “That sparked the team, it sparked the crowd and that got us back into it.”

Robinson sparked a comeback with 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench and got playing time much earlier in the game as Aldridge picked up two early fouls. It was the first time in his career that Robinson led his team in scoring.

“I gave energy to my team, especially in the first quarter I came in and hit a couple of shots,” he said. “Down the stretch, I seen the coach trust me and keep me out there. I just kept doing what I did, I came up with offensive boards and a put back sparked my team a little bit and we got back in the game.”

A ferocious tip-slam by Robinson with 8:02 left cut the Phoenix lead down to six and a Wesley Matthews 3-pointer on the ensuing possession cut the lead to three.

“In practice, that’s who he is all the time,” said Lillard of Robinson.

Eric Bledsoe dominated on both ends of the floor for three quarters, scoring 23 points to lead the Suns.

But he went 1-for-8 in the final period, including missing a lay-up over Nicolas Batum that could have won the game.

Robin Lopez had his third straight double-double with a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with 13 points.

Lillard and Aldridge carried the load offensively against Phoenix in the season opener but tonight the script was flipped.

It was everybody else helping lift up the Blazers as the Blazers’ dynamic duo struggled from the field with six Blazers scoring in double-figures.

However, it was an Aldridge-Lillard pick-and-roll that sealed the game and freed Lillard for the game-winner.

The Blazers now head east riding a four-game winning streak into a four-game road trip starting in Boston on Friday.

“We’ve got a chance to really pull away from some teams out here in the West,” Matthews said.