Lillard Rewrites Franchise Record Books With Another Night Of Super Will Power
PORTLAND -- After breaking his own career and franchise record with 61 points in a 129-124 overtime victory versus the Golden State Warriors Monday night at the Moda Center, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard implied that, despite seemingly having the ability to will a team to victory, that he does not actually possess super powers.
But when pressed on the subject a few minutes later, Lillard had to admit, albeit reluctantly, that he couldn’t be certain he didn’t have some kind of extrasensory capabilities.
“I guess I wouldn’t know,” said the 6-2 point guard as out he headed toward the exit of Portland’s locker room.
Lillard possessing some sort of preternatural ability would be as good of an explanation as any other for what he was able to do Monday night.
His 61 points Monday night constitute a new career and franchise high in scoring, eclipsing his own record by a single point. His 11 made three-pointers is also a career and franchise record, and he is now the only player in NBA history who has scored at least 60 points and made at least 10 three-pointers in a game. And his 16 free throws on 16 attempts ties the franchise record for most makes without a miss.
“You kind of run out of adjectives for Damian and his performance," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "The way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, timeouts, halftime, his leadership was great. You run out of adjectives, he’s an amazing player."
Lillard now has the high scoring mark in the NBA this season and has scored at least 60 points twice this season, something that had never been done even once in the first 49 years of the Trail Blazers' existence. What's more, he joins Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, James Harden and Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history with multiple 60-plus points games in the same season.
"We needed a win tonight," said Lillard. "It would have been a tough one for us to give up. We’ve got a good home stretch of games, a good opportunity to get some wins against some tough teams on our home floor so it was necessary and it was on time."
So while what Lillard has done this season is hardly common, there is some precedent, though it's hard to watch him play on nights like Monday without coming away with the sense that there's something bordering on the unexplainable taking place. And sure, Damian probably doesn't possess super powers, but it seems at least debatable that he owns a will power that can only be summoned by a select few. How else does one explain an ability to change an outcome of an event through belief? How does one obtain an unflinching unwillingness to give up on a game, on a season, on a franchise when most everyone else has?
"That's just not who I am," said Lillard, who went 11-of-37 from the field and 11-of-20 from the three while also added 10 rebounds and seven assists in 45 minutes. "I don't know what explanation to give you, that's just not who I am. Anything I'm a part of, I always think it's a chance. It's as simple as that. You show that belief with your actions and your body language and your attitude all the time, so it's not like I was having a good game tonight so everybody believed because I believed. It's like, they know my disposition all the time, they know my attitude and personality all the time."
When the Warriors started the second quarter on a 19-4 run, which including Golden State scoring the first 12 points of the quarter, Lillard didn't flinch. When Golden State opened the second half by going 8-2 to push their lead back to double digits, Dame kept going. And when his teammates missed open three-pointers one after the other -- take away Lillard's makes and Portland went just 3-of-24 from behind the arch -- he kept feeding them the ball.
"We walked through shootaround and did everything we needed to do," said Lillard. "Even when I went home after shoot around, it was just one of those days, when I came here, I wasn’t coming here to lose this game and it was as simple as that."
Some might call it denial, but to Lillard, it's just the way he was made. It might not be supernatural, but it's certainly not normal.