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Blazers, Lillard hope to stay hot against Bucks

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers are on a roll, and it is no coincidence that Damian Lillard is on one, too.

The Trail Blazers (32-37) have won eight of their last 10 games heading into their Tuesday night matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks (34-35) at Moda Center. Lillard, named Monday as NBA Western Conference Player of the Week, has led the way.

Portland's point guard scored a league-high 35.3 points while shooting 55.1 percent from the field and 59.4 percent from 3-point range as the Blazers won three of four games last week.

Lillard also was 36 for 36 from the free-throw line for the week. He scored a season-high 49 points in a win Sunday at Miami, matching the franchise record by making nine 3-point shots. Against the Heat, Lillard became the first player in Portland history to reach the 1,000 plateau for made 3-pointers.

Lillard is averaging 31.2 points in the 13 games after the All-Star break, second in the NBA to Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook over that span.

"Dame," coach Terry Stotts said, "is leading the charge."

On a recently completed 4-1 road trip, Lillard averaged more than 12 points in the opening quarter.

"It's important to come out and establish the mindset, 'We coming,' " Lillard said. "As a leader, it's important for me to spark that up and put that urgency in our minds that this is the way it's going to be."

The Blazers are in excellent shape to make a strong run at the playoffs, with 10 of their final 13 games at home. That's no guarantee for success, though -- they are only 17-14 at Moda Center this season.

Like Portland in the Western Conference, Milwaukee is in a battle for one of the final postseason spots in the East. The Bucks, who will be on the fifth game of a six-game road trip, are also on an 8-2 tear, though they were drilled 117-92 in their most recent outing Saturday at Golden State.

The Bucks were playing the second of back-to-back games after a 107-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center Friday night.

"There are no excuses, but we were fatigued," guard Malcolm Brogdon told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "If your second game of a back-to-back is against one of the very best teams, it's tough.

"Fatigue plays a factor, but it's not the reason we lost. Guys were just a little bit drained, especially playing a team that moves as much and passes as much (as the Warriors). It was a test."

The Bucks want to get Giannis Antetokounmpo going after the All-Star forward managed only nine points on 4-for-14 shooting in 30 minutes against Golden State. The fourth-year NBA player comes into the matchup with the Blazers averaging 22.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 52.6 percent from the field.

Milwaukee is 2-2 on its trip, with games at Portland and Sacramento remaining.

"We're not aiming for .500 (on the trip)," guard Matthew Dellavedova said. "We want to keep getting better."

Updated March 20, 2017

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