Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, drives to the basket on Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
PORTLAND (AP) — Damian Lillard scored a season-high 60 points, hitting nine 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz 134-124 on Wednesday night.
Lillard tied for second-most in the NBA this season. Donovan Mitchell had 71 in an overtime game for Cleveland against Chicago on Jan. 3, and Luka Doncic scored 60 in Dallas’ OT victory over New York on Dec. 27.
Jerami Grant added 19 points to help Portland win its second straight game.
Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 24 points. He had a layup followed by a tip shot with 5:20 left that got Utah to 115-108.
Grant and Anfernee Simons had back-to-back dunks to put Portland up 121-110 and the Blazers led comfortably the rest of the way.
When Lillard came to the free-throw line late in the game, the home crowd stood and chanted “MVP! “MVP!” Lillard missed a jump shot with 29.1 seconds left that would have topped his career best 61.
Lillard has four career games of 60 points or more. He’s reached 61 twice.
After struggling for much of January, the Blazers were coming off a morale-boosting 147-127 victory over San Antonio on Monday.
Lillard had 26 points in the first half, hitting six 3s.
Lillard finished 21 of 29 from the field, 9 of 15 on 3s and 9 of 10 at the line. He also had eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
Jazz: The quick trip to Portland was in the middle of two Jazz homestands. They played three in Utah before the game, then return for five games at home. … Markkanen has made a 3-pointer in 37 straight games, the most for an NBA 7-footer.
Trail Blazers: It was the fourth game of a six-game homestand for the Blazers. … Portland was hurt in the first half when starter Josh Hart left with a hamstring injury and did not return. Jusuf Nurkic left the game in the third quarter with left calf soreness and did not return. … Lillard moved into sixth on the league’s all-time 3pointers made list, passing Vince Carter.
Rookie Walker Kessler has been starting for the Jazz in Kelly Olynyk’s absence because of a left ankle strain. The 7-foot-1 center ranks among the lead leaders in blocks, with 1.9 per game.
Jazz coach Will Hardy said part of Walker’s development is knowing he belongs at the NBA level.
“I think he’s getting some good feedback when he watches the film with the coaches, but I really think that he’s getting a lot of feedback from his teammates, and they’re empowering him,” Harvey said. “The things that they say to him in the huddle, in the locker room, pregame, postgame and at practice, make him feel like he’s a big part of what we’re doing and that he does belong and I think that’s where you’re seeing his confidence grow.”
Jazz: Host Dallas on Saturday night.
Trail Blazers: Host the Raptors on Saturday night.