Lillard set a franchise record with the highest-scoring game of the season in the NBA. He was 19 of 33 from the field, 7 of 16 from 3-point range and made all 15 of his free throws.
Irving, the NBA’s second-leading scorer coming in to the game, did his part in the guard matchup for the Nets. He had nine fourth- quarter points and hit a shot to put the Nets up 117-112 with 17.8 seconds left.
CJ McCollum struggled for most of the night for Portland, missing 14 of his first 16 shots and finishing with only eight points on 4-of-19 shooting. Hassan Whiteside had 10 points and 15 rebounds, and Anfernee Simons had 15 points off the bench.
Starting small forward Rodney Hood left the game in the first quarter and did not return with back spasms. That meant first-round pick Nassir Little made his NBA debut. Little got a block and a basket during his first NBA shift, helping Portland cut what had been a 10-point lead down to five. He finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Nets: Through eight games, the stellar play of Irving hasn’t been the only bright spot through a tough 3-5 start. They came into Friday ranked first in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage, which came as an encouraging surprise to head coach Kenny Atkinson.
“I saw that and I was a little surprised,” Atkinson said. “We’ll see if we can sustain it. But I’m glad because we’ve also been pretty good at transition defense. If we were 30th in transition defense, I’d be worried. The fact we are balancing those two is a good sign. “
The Nets faced an added challenge on Friday as they were without back-up center DeAndre Jordan. With no real replacement for him on the roster, so the Nets will have to platoon the back-up center spot.
“By committee, we can go big, we can go small,” Atkinson said. “We’ll see a little bit of both.”
Trail Blazers: Entering Friday, the Trail Blazers came in struggling a little bit having lost their past three games. But while they fell in Thursday’s loss at the LA Clippers, 20-year old Blazers guard Anfernee Simons had 16 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and finished the game alongside Lillard and McCollum. Head coach Terry Stotts likes the versatility that line-up affords Portland on the offensive end.
Nets: At Phoenix on Sunday night.
Trail Blazers: Host Atlanta on Sunday night.