NBA

Damian Lillard looks to keep his hand hot when the Blazers host the Raptors

Damian Lillard looks to keep his hand hot when the Blazers host the Raptors

Damian Lillard has quite an act to follow when the Portland Trail Blazers host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

Lillard is coming off the fourth 60-point outing of his 11-season career and has regained the form he lacked when he was limited to 29 games in his injury-riddled 2021-22 campaign.

Lillard was very efficient as he scored exactly 60 points against the Utah Jazz during Portland’s 134-124 home win on Wednesday. He made 21 of 29 field goal attempts, including 9 of 15 from the 3-point line, and was 9 of 10 from the free throw line.

Lillard was one point shy of his career high, while contributing eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

“I didn’t think I was going to have to get 60, but I knew I was going to have to be engaged and in attack mode and be aggressive,” Lillard said afterward. ‚ÄúThat was the mindset going into it.

“I knew coming in they’re a really good offensive team, they’ve played really well against us, they’ve been playing well, they’ve been beating a lot of teams and you know it’s going to be a tough game.”

Lillard, 32, is ranked sixth N.B.A by scoring 30.1 points per game. He’s been on a solid roll over the last 10 games, averaging 38 points with four outings of 40 or more, including 50 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 12 in addition to the 60-point effort.

“I think any time you score 60 points is special, but I think this one felt pretty simple,” Lillard said. “I thought I played the game the way it should have been played.”

The Trail Blazers have averaged 140.5 points while winning their last two games. The explosive stretch follows a stretch in which Portland dropped 12 of 16 games.

Toronto is 1-1 in a seven-game road swing all season. The Raptors defeated the Sacramento Kings 113-95 on Wednesday before falling 129-117 to the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

Fred VanVleet had 28 points and 10 assists against the Warriors, while Scottie Barnes had 24 and Pascal Siakam 21. Siakam made just 8 of 26 shots despite his fourth straight 20-point outing and ninth in 11 games .

“I’ve got to play a little more contact and finish some of those (shots),” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam’s shooting. … “I think I’d say he’s stuck a couple of times, but most of the time he’s put himself in a pretty good spot with room to make a decent shot.”

VanVleet has at least 25 points in five of the last six games and is averaging 28.2 points over that span. He has made 26 of 58 3-point attempts (44.8 percent) during the stretch.

Toronto OG Anunoby (left wrist) is expected to sit out Saturday’s game after being injured against the Warriors. He was injured in a hard fall on the court after Golden State’s JaMychal Green contested his driving shot. The Raptors said the X-rays were negative.

Precious Achiuwa played 36 minutes and had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double in four games.

“I think he’s going to play virtual starting minutes whether he starts or not,” Nurse said of Achiuwa. “I imagine he will with the OG wrist situation. He probably has to be more involved and more aggressive because he’s making good decisions.”

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic (calf) and Josh Hart (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

The Raptors posted a 117-105 victory over the visiting Trail Blazers on Jan. 8 to stop a five-game skid in the series. Lillard scored 34 for Portland and Siakam scored 27 for Toronto.

–Media at the field level

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