Damian Lillard had no idea how close he was to the 60-point milestone.
He scored a franchise-record 59 points and matched his career high with nine 3-pointers to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz 101-86 on Saturday night.
Lillard surpassed Damon Stoudamire’s 54 points with a step-back 3-pointer with 1:49 left. With the crowd on its feet, he raised his arms in celebration then pounded his chest.
He had a chance at 60, but missed the first two of a trio of free throws with 23.1 seconds left. After the first miss, he thought 60 would be out of reach. He jokingly blamed teammate Noah Vonleh for being off by a point when he shouted out his total down the final stretch.
“When I missed the second one and everybody was like, ‘Ohhh,’ I was like, ‘What happened?’ Then I made the last one and looked up and I had 59,” he said, shaking his head. “And I was like — it’s Noah’s fault.”
The Blazers stayed in front of the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with just two games left.
It was Lillard’s 27th game with 30 or more points this season, a franchise high. Stoudamire set the previous franchise record for points on Jan. 14, 2005, at New Orleans.
“I knew before the game that I was going to come out and I was going to attack them. Knowing how important the game was, I decided early was going to come out here and try to impose my will on them,” he said.
Gordon Hayward had 21 points for the Jazz, battling with the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth spot in the West and home court advantage.
The Jazz trailed by 20 points early in the fourth quarter but cut it to 90-78 on Rudy Gobert’s jumper with 4:15 to go. Lillard answered with his eighth 3-pointer of the game. The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!” at times for the rest of the game.
The two teams also met earlier this week. Hayward scored 30 points and Gobert added 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Jazz to a 106-87 victory. Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors both sat out of that game because of knee soreness.
The Blazers were without reserve guard Allen Crabbe because of left foot soreness.
Portland big man Jusuf Nurkic, who sparked the team after coming over in a trade from Denver at the deadline, missed his fifth game because of a right leg fracture, but could return if the Blazers make the playoffs.
Portland led by 19 points in the first quarter as the Jazz went cold, shooting 35 percent. Lillard had 26 points, matching his own franchise record for most points in a quarter.
The Jazz took a blow early in the second half when Raul Neto, who started the half in Dante Exum’s place, rolled his left ankle and left the game. X-Rays were negative.
Snyder said the Jazz are going to have to assess where they are in terms of injuries. Utah visits the Warriors on Monday.
“I don’t know if we’re going to go into the playoffs with three or four guys out, that doesn’t do us any good where we’re seeded,” the coach said. “We’ve got to step back and see who is healthy.”
Jazz: George Hill (groin) missed his sixth straight game. … Utah hasn’t won at the Moda Center since April 2015.
Trail Blazers: It was Lillard’s 75th career game of 30-plus to match Geoff Petrie for second-most in team history. Clyde Drexler in No. 1 with 130. Lillard also became the fifth Blazer to score 2,000-plus points in a season.
The game was delayed in the second quarter when a woman collapsed courtside during a timeout. It was not clear if the woman was a fan or worked at the arena.
She was given oxygen and taken by stretcher from the court. Her condition was not immediately clear.
Jazz: Utah visits the Warriors on Monday before closing the out the regular season at home on Wednesday against the Spurs.
The Blazers wrap up the regular season at home with a San Antonio on Monday and the Pelicans on Wednesday.