NBA: Damian Lillard returns, Trail Blazers breeze past Pacers


FILE – Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts during the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Moda Center on November 17, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Steph Chambers/Getty Images/AFP

Jerami Grant scored 28 points and Damian Lillard had 21 points and six assists in his return to the lineup as the Portland Trail Blazers cruised to a 116-100 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.

Lillard missed the previous seven games due to his second right calf injury of the season. He was 5 of 10 from 3-point range and was 7 of 16 overall in 32 minutes.

Anfernee Simons made five 3-pointers while contributing 22 points and six assists as Portland won its second straight game after losing seven of its previous eight. Jusuf Nurkic scored 19 points and Josh Hart added 11 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.

Myles Turner recorded 24 points and nine rebounds and Buddy Hield had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana. Andrew Nembhard added 16 points and eight assists while Bennedict Mathurin and Aaron Nesmith had 10 points apiece.

Indiana played without guard Tyrese Haliburton (groin). The Pacers are 1-4 on a seven-game road trip.

Portland shot 48.8 percent from the field and was 17 of 40 from 3-point range.

The Pacers connected on 44 percent of their shots, including 10 of 33 from behind the arc.

Turner scored the first points of the third quarter to move the Pacers within 54-51 before Portland went on a 15-2 tear. Simons, Hart and Grant all made treys as the Trail Blazers took a 69-53 advantage with 8:54 left in the period.

Simons made a long 3-pointer to make it 89-67 with 2:03 remaining in the quarter.

Portland led 93-74 entering the final stanza and Simons added a 3-pointer to again make it a 22-point margin.

But Indiana answered with a 15-4 run and moved within 100-89 on two free throws by Hield with 8:09 left.

Lillard drained a 3-pointer with 6:53 left and Portland eventually boosted the lead back to 17 points before closing it out and handing the Pacers their fifth loss in the past seven games.

Nurkic scored 12 points in the first half to help Portland lead 54-49 at the break. Turner scored 17 in the half for the Pacers.


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