What will Damian Lillard do for an encore?
He scored 51 points on Sunday to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 3-point win over the Philadelphia 76ers, then went out and scored 61 on Tuesday to give Portland another 3-point win, this time over the Dallas Mavericks.
Dame Time is also potentially leading to Play-In Time for Portland.
The Blazers' win, coupled with the Memphis Grizzlies' loss to the Boston Celtics, gives Portland sole possession of eighth place in the West heading into Thursday, when all four teams who are still in the play-in race will be back in action. That includes the Phoenix Suns, who improved to 7-0 in seeding games, and the San Antonio Spurs, who are trying to extend their playoff streak to 23 seasons.
Updated West Play-In Standings
8. Portland Trail Blazers | 34-39 (.466) | --
t-9. Memphis Grizzlies | 33-39 (.458) | 0.5 GB
t-9. Phoenix Suns | 33-39 (.458) | 0.5 GB
11. San Antonio Spurs | 32-38 (.457) | 0.5 GB
All time is Dame Time in the bubble
For the second consecutive game, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard topped the 50-point mark. He's the first player in Portland history to string together back-to-back 50-point games. He's also just the sixth player in NBA history to record at least six 50-point games in a single season, joining Wilt Chamberlain (who did so in five separate seasons), Rick Barry, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and James Harden. Not bad company.
Dame is the first Blazer and 12th player in NBA history with back-to-back 50-point games:— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 12, 2020
Elgin Baylor pic.twitter.com/0pOwDLbgi9
Lillard finished with 61 points, joining Chamberlain as the only players to score at least 60 three times in a season. He scored 60 in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in November, then had 61 in a win over the Golden State Warriors in January.
Damian Lillard's 61— Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) August 12, 2020
9 of 17 from 3-Point range
3 of 7 from midrange
5 of 8 from close range
18 of 18 from the line pic.twitter.com/KWqqKWBt53
Mavericks troll Suns on Twitter
The Phoenix Suns have been the best team in the bubble, improving to 7-0 with their win Tuesday. But even after that win, they still were not in control of their own destiny. They needed Portland to lose at least once. Enter the Dallas Mavericks, who just so happen to be Phoenix's opponent for its final seeding game on Thursday.
We somehow control your destiny more than you 🤔— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) August 11, 2020
The Mavs weren't wrong. A Dallas win over Portland Tuesday would have gone a long way toward helping Phoenix, so the Suns laid out some simple instructions for Dallas.
YEAH SO WIN TODAY AND LOSE THURSDAY.— 7-0 (@Suns) August 12, 2020
IT'S EASY https://t.co/1F4w0NbV76
Unfortunately for Phoenix, Damian Lillard got in the way of those plans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected
Giannis ejected after headbutting Wagner
Giannis Antetokounmpo is tossed after headbutting the Wizards' Moritz Wagner.
We head butting? FOH— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) August 12, 2020
Devin Booker goes for 30 again, breaks Suns record
Devin Booker has been on fire in the bubble, and that continued Tuesday. He dropped 35 points in a win over the 76ers, reaching the 30-point mark for the fifth time in seven seeding games. Tuesday was his 91st career 30-point game, breaking the Suns franchise record he shared with Walter Davis after his 35-point outing on Monday.
For comparison's sake, Booker has played 341 games with the Suns (averaging 22.4 PPG), while Davis racked up his 90 30-point games over the course of 766 games in 11 seasons in Phoenix. Booker, a first-time All-Star this year, still has a ways to go to match Davis's six All-Star Game appearances representing the Suns.
Booker posterizes two Sixers on mean lefty slam
Devin Booker bashes a left-handed dunk over Furkan Korkmaz and Norvel Pelle.
Suns starters announced by their families
NBA players have been at the Walt Disney World Resort inside the NBA's bubble for more than a month now, and their families won't be allowed to join them until after the first round of the playoffs. So the Phoenix Suns did the next best thing, having their starting five for Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers announced remotely by each player's family from home.
I'm not crying... you are— 6-0 (@Suns) August 11, 2020
We surprised the team with starting lineups announced by their families at home 💜🧡 pic.twitter.com/xjtwYS7RN1
Justin Anderson matches unfortunate NBA record
The Brooklyn Nets player has never been a great 3-point shooter in his career, averaging 30% from beyond the arc. But he'd never been quite as off the mark as he was Tuesday. Anderson attempted 12 3-pointers and missed every single one, tying an NBA record for 3s attempted in a game without a make. He matches Brook Lopez, who went 0-for-12 in 2018 for the Milwaukee Bucks, and Eric Gordon, who had his 0-for-12 night back in February for the Houston Rockets.
The good news for Anderson is that his misses didn't hurt that much -- Brooklyn still beat Orlando 108-96 to improve to 5-2 in the NBA restart. The Nets can reach .500 with a win over Portland on Thursday night.
Wednesday's must-see games
Bubble darling T.J. Warren will look to get back on track after a disappointing game (12 points, 5-of-14 shooting, 2-of-6 from 3) against the Miami Heat. Still, Warren is averaging 31 points per game in the bubble, with a 57.8/52.4/88.9 shooting line. The Pacers hope that Warren will resume his scoring spree because they're on track to face Miami in the first round. Houston, meanwhile, will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Russell Westbrook will miss Wednesday's game for rest, though the plan is to have Eric Gordon back. Gordon has not played in any seeding games because of a sprained ankle. -- Andrew Lopez
This game could end up deciding the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference -- or leave Denver fighting not to fall to the No. 4 seed, depending on Houston's performance. To move up from No. 3 to No. 2, Denver would have to win back-to-back games to finish the seeding games, and the Clippers would have to drop both of their games. Denver is coming off a three-point loss to the Lakers in which Kyle Kuzma's go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left lifted Los Angeles over Denver's bench, which played the entire fourth. The Clippers are coming off of two days of rest after Sunday's 129-120 loss to the Nets. It was, however, Kawhi Leonard's best performance in the bubble, as he finished with 39 points -- tied for the third-most points he has scored in a game this season. -- Lopez
Analysis and intel
Phoenix is 7-0 and Portland keeps winning. Here are the latest projections for the four-team race.
To get you ready for this stretch run, our NBA experts highlight the eight games that will decide the playoff picture.