The race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference has a new leader thanks to another virtuoso performance from Damian Lillard.
Lillard tied his career high with 61 points as the Portland Trail Blazers held off the Dallas Mavericks, 134-131, to move into eighth place and clinch a spot in the West play-in. Two days after scoring 51 points in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Lillard shot 17-of-32 from the field overall, 9-of-17 from 3-point range and 18-of-18 from the foul line.
Lillard scored 22 points in the fourth quarter as the teams traded big buckets down the stretch. It was Lillard's third 60-point game of the season. He joins Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history with three 60-point outings in a season. Lillard is the sixth player in league history with three 60-point games in his career.
Carmelo Anthony added 26 points for the Blazers to help offset a 2-for-14 shooting night by C.J. McCollum.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavericks with 36 points, but fouled out with 1:18 left. Luka Doncic had 25 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 24 points.
The Blazers improved to 5-2 in the Orlando bubble and took over eighth place in the West with their win and a loss by the Memphis Grizzlies. The race for the final playoff spot is still tight. Memphis is tied with the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs a half-game behind Portland.