BY ANNE M. PETERSON
AP sports writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 37 points and 12 assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 147-127 on Monday night to end a three-game losing streak.
Jusuf Nurkic added 25 points and 11 rebounds for the struggling Blazers, who lost eight of their previous 10 games.
Keldon Johnson scored 20 points for the Spurs, who have lost seven of their last eight games and are second to bottom in the Western Conference standings, just above the Houston Rockets.
The high-scoring first half ended with a score of 74. The Blazers began to back down late in the third quarter when Lillard hit a 3-pointer that gave them a 103-95 lead.
Rookie Shaedon Sharpe added a 3 and then dived to put the Blazers 108-97 ahead. Lillard made another 3 from just inside Portland’s pinwheel logo on center court.
Portland led by as much as 24 points in the fourth quarter to walk away with the win.
The Blazers rebounded from a loss to the Lakers on Sunday night when they gambled away a 25-point lead at halftime in a 121-112 loss.
Portland coach Chauncey Billups spoke to the team ahead of the Spurs game. Though he didn’t reveal details of the chat, he said he used the quote, “Adversity has a way of introducing a man to himself.”
“We are in a nasty rut right now. And last night was our worst loss of the year. We’ve had some tough times,” Billups said. “Last night was the worst. Let’s face it, when it happens, it happens and you just have to stick together. Stay together and keep fighting your way through.”
The Blazers led 40-38 after the first quarter. Tre Jones’ layup gave the Spurs a 57-53 lead. But Lillard was fouled on a 3-point try just over a minute before the break and hit everyone, giving the Blazers a 72-67 lead.
Spurs: It was the first of three games. Next up are the Los Angeles teams. … The Spurs had eight players in double figures. … Jeremy Sochan ended with 18 points.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers won their first two games against the Spurs earlier this season. … Portland is mostly healthy, with only Gary Payton II playing limited minutes. … Anfernee Simons ended with 26 points. … Portland’s record for most points in a game is 156. … Lillard had seven 3-pointers.
Spurs: Visit the Lakers on Wednesday.
Trail Blazers: Host the Jazz on Wednesdays.
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