PORTLAND – Damian Lillard scored 25 points and the Portland Trail Blazers staved off elimination in the Western Conference semifinals with a 103-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night.
Nicolas Batum had 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists to cut San Antonio’s advantage in the series to 3-1.
Portland held Tony Parker to 14 points after he had scored 29 points or more in three of his last four playoff games. Coach Gregg Popovich sat Parker and Tim Duncan after Portland built a 20-point lead in the final quarter.
The Spurs are looking to head to the conference finals for the third straight season.
Game 5 is Wednesday night in San Antonio.
No team has ever lost a seven-game NBA playoff series after going up 3-0.
The Blazers were the last team to take a series to seven games after dropping the first three. Portland rebounded in the first round against Dallas in 2003 but ultimately lost the first-round series’ deciding game.
The Blazers had been hurt by the loss of backup point guard Mo Williams to a groin injury for the past two games. Williams had provided both energy and points off the bench all season in relief of Damian Lillard. Portland got just six points off the bench in Game 3, but Will Barton provided a spark with 17 points on Monday night.
Coach Terry Stotts promised that the Blazers would play with pride in Game 4 and they did from the start. Lillard’s pull up jumper gave Portland a 14-8 lead. He extended it to 20-14 with a layup. But the Spurs answered with a 9-2 run and took a 24-23 lead on Patty Mills’ 3-pointer.
Portland, which had only led twice in the previous three games, quickly reclaimed the lead and held on until Tiago Splitter tied it at 46 with a free throw. The Blazers had a 50-48 lead at the half.
Lillard opened the second half with a 3-pointer. Batum hit a 3 and added a free throw to push the lead to 69-61.
Batum added another 3 before Thomas Robinson’s dunk and Lillard’s 3 made it 77-63 to cap a 12-2 Portland run.
Lillard’s layup put Portland ahead 90-72 in the fourth quarter. He added another to make it 94-74. Parker scored 29 points in San Antonio’s 118-103 Game 3 victory on Saturday night. The Spurs had routed the Blazers 116-92 in the series opener after their grueling seven-game series against the Mavericks, then built a 20-point lead and won Game 2, 114-97.
Notes: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll watched the game sitting next to Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder who owns both the Super Bowl-winning Seahawks and the Blazers. … It was Batum’s first double-double in the playoffs