LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 51 points after a frustrating finish a night earlier, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-121 on Sunday.
It was a day of redemption for the star point guard. On Saturday, he missed a pair of free throws with 18.6 seconds to go and a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left in a 122-117 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Portland bounced back and pulled within a half-game of Memphis for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers increased their chances of qualifying for the play-in series, which will start Saturday.
The 76ers lost much more than the game. All-Star center Joel Embiid left in the first quarter with what the team called a left ankle injury, and he did not return. He contested a shot, then backed up and stepped awkwardly into the stanchion. He had been averaging 30 points per game since the restart.
It was more bad injury news for the 76ers. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is out indefinitely with an injured left knee.
Josh Richardson scored a season-high 34 points and Alec Burks added 20 for Philadelphia. The 76ers would have moved into a tie with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.
Without their stars, the 76ers fell behind by 17 in the second quarter and trailed 67-58 at halftime.
The game tightened up late. Philadelphia’s Al Horford hit a 3-pointer to trim Portland’s lead to 122-121. Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic made two free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining to put his team up three. Richardson missed a 3-pointer for Philadelphia, and the 76ers couldn’t get another shot off after a scramble for the rebound.
76ers: Horford was issued a technical foul in the third quarter. He scored 15 points. … Burks scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Trail Blazers: Lillard scored a basket in the first quarter when he drove to the hoop and his pass bounced off Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris, off the backboard and into the basket. … Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points.
76ers: Play the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
Trail Blazers: Play the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.