They are one-half game ahead of New Orleans, 1 1/2 ahead ahead the Clippers and now three ahead of Utah.
“I think it showed what our mentality is and where our focus is, and that’s coming in here and making this push so we can get back to the postseason,” Lillard told the (Portland) Oregonian.
Portland, which has won four of five and eight of 12, could use the next few weeks as a springboard toward a positive playoff push.
The Blazers play eight of their next nine at home, including games against contenders Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Golden State and Cleveland.
“We understand what’s at stake now,” McCollum told reporters. “One game, a loss or a win, could sway the Western Conference playoff race.”
Bucks: Milwaukee scored 42 points in the second for its highest-scoring quarter of the season. The previous high was 39. … The Bucks had a season-high 21 turnovers. … Milwaukee outrebounded Toronto 51-37.
Raptors: Fred VanVleet scored six points, ending a nine-game streak with at least 10. … Toronto shot 1 for 12 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Ducks, currently third in the Pacific Division with a 31-20-11 record, are the winners of four in a row, seven of 10 and four of their last five on the road as they get the old reliables working at the same time: timely scoring, consistent goaltending and strong defensive play.
Ryan Miller stopped 41 shots during his 42nd NHL shutout as the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Wednesday night. A night later, the Coyotes (17-33-10) — still last overall in the NHL but showing signs of improvement — lost 5-2 at home to the Calgary Flames, who had dropped their previous three.
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf scored a short-handed goal and added an assist, giving him three points in two games. Left wing Rickard Rakell leads the Ducks with 48 points, while Getzlaf is second with 38, just ahead of center Adam Henrique 37 points.
“We recognize where the season is at,” said Miller, who has stopped all 44 shots he’s faced in the third period of his last two games. “Our game has been pretty good. We had a couple of tough outings on the road (where the Ducks are 15-11-7) and then we kind of got it together. It’s been consistent for the last two weeks. We’ve built a good game. We have to stick with it.”