AP

Trail Blazers beat Pacers in Lillard’s return from injury

Dec 4, 2022, 6:31 AM | Updated: 9:43 pm

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, passes the ball away from Indiana Pacers center ...

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, left, passes the ball away from Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

(AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jerami Grant scored 28 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over the Indiana Pacers 116-100 on Sunday night.

Blazers star Damian Lillard scored 21 points and had six assists in his first game since returning from a calf strain he suffered on Nov. 19. He’s missed 12 games so far this season.

“It felt good especially coming off last night. We picked up a big win and I just wanted to encourage the team and bring that energy to get us on a win streak,” Lillard said. “I felt normal, I felt good. I think this time it wasn’t as bad as the first time.”

Anfernee Simons had 22 points and six assists on the night, while Jusuf Nurkic had 19 points and six rebounds.

The win helped Portland sweep a back-to-back set after winning in Utah on Saturday night.

One night after Grant and Simons combined to score 78 points in a win at Utah, Lillard wanted to make sure his return didn’t lead to them turning down their own offense.

“Don’t let me stop you from being aggressive,” Lillard said of Grant and Simons, who combined to score 50 in Sunday’s win. “I’m going to have the ball in my hands and I’m going to find opportunities to do what I do. That’s what I do.”

Myles Turner led the Pacers with 24 points and nine rebounds. Buddy Hield had 22 points in support as the Pacers were without starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Lillard connected on his first field goal attempt — a step back 3-pointer from the corner. With Lillard back in uniform, Portland kept the Pacers at bay for much of the game. Although the Pacers jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter by hitting six of 10 shots, Portland was in control for most of the game.

“I think at the start of the second half we lost some of our principles defensively,” Turner said. “We got a little too excited offensively and it hurt our defense. We need to play 48 minutes of basketball.”

The Blazers were hot from the outside, shooting 17 of 40 (42.5%) from the 3-point line. Ball movement was key for Portland as they had 32 assists on 42 made field goals.

“If we’re really going to win, then it has too be collective,” Lillard said. “It’s really encouraging for me to see it really unfold.”

Lillard picked up his third foul in the second quarter and the Blazers took him out for the final 2:24 of the first half. During Lillard’s stint on the bench to close the first half, the Blazers extended their lead to 54-49.

A 3-pointer by Grant extended the lead to 69-53 with 8:54 left in the third quarter and a 3-pointer by Simons pushed the lead to 89-67 with under two minutes in the quarter. Portland took a 93-74 lead into the final period.

Portland held 22 point leads several times on Sunday night.

The Pacers showed some grit to start the fourth quarter, cutting the Portland lead to 11 a few times but that was as close as they would get in the final period.

HALIBURTON OUT

Haliburton missed his first game of the season with a groin injury on Sunday.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said he also expects Haliburton to sit out when the Pacers travel to the Bay Area to face off against the Golden State Warriors.

UP NEXT

Indiana: At Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

Portland: Host the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Trail Blazers beat Pacers in Lillard’s return from injury