Dame Does It Again In Oklahoma City
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Damian Lamonte Ollie Lillard has done it again.
After leading by more than 20 points in the third quarter, only to end up trailing by five in the fourth quarter, Trail Blazers point guard and soon-to-be 2021 All-Star Damian Lillard put up 12 points, all on three-pointers, in the final four minutes and 11 seconds to lift Portland to a 115-104 victory versus the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“(Oklahoma City) got a lot of those energy baskets that got them back into the game,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Once they got back into the game, they were feeling pretty confident, they made three out of four threes and that’s where the momentum of the game switched for them. But obviously Dame made some big shots -- that’s an understatement -- at the end so we could pull away.”
The Trail Blazers are now 17-10 overall and 9-5 on the road this season. With the win, Portland extends their current win streak to five games, their longest of the season thus far, and end a three-game losing streak to the Thunder.
Portland had almost complete control of Tuesday’s game through the first three quarters. They put up 31 points in the first quarter, shot 54 percent from three in the second quarter and generally looked as though they were capable of handling anything that a young Thunder team threw at them, despite having lost the previous meeting this season at the Moda Center.
But after three very solid quarters, the Trail Blazers went as cold as the wind chill in Oklahoma City in the fourth quarter. Portland didn’t score in the first three minutes of the quarter, needing Lillard to make a layup at the 8:42 mark to get on the board in the fourth. Carmelo Anthony would convert a pullup jumper a minute later, after which the bottom feel out for the visitors.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 17, 2021
“They were on a run, teams go on runs,” said Lillard. “It’s the NBA, it happens. Twenty-point lead now is probably like a 10-point lead was when I first got in the league.”
The Thunder would score the next 10 points and by the 4:48 mark, had outscored the Trail Blazers 23-4 in the fourth to take a 102-97 lead. And at that point, Portland’s win streak and the momentum they’ve built over the last few weeks seemed to be slipping away.
But Damian Lillard wasn’t going to let that happen.
The 6-3 point guard out of Weber State, despite being a bit hobbled after a knee-to-knee collision with Luguentz Dort -- who looks as though he would be just as comfortable in the NFL as the NBA -- went on the kind of “Dame Time” run that Blazers fans have become accustoming to seeing from the All-Star over the course of eight-plus seasons with the Trail Blazers.
“It’s time to win or lose,” said Lillard. “A play needs to be made, a shot needs to be made, the team needs to be lifted up. Just being able to recognize that moment and take yourself to that place mentally where it’s like, alright, regardless of what kind of game it’s been, embrace this moment. Embrace this opportunity to rise up and have a moment when it’s most needed.”
His first three of the fourth with 4:11 to play cut Oklahoma City’s lead to two, which was then followed up by a Gary Trent Jr. three to about half a minute later that would give the Trail Blazers the lead again at 103-102.
“I remember playing 2K with (Lillard) and shooting them same exact shots,” said Trent Jr. “It’s still a surreal feeling. And it’s crazy that -- I can say this -- I’m not surprised. When we out there, you just watch in amazement, you watch in awe. You can see the work.”
Lillard made two more threes to push the lead to seven, after which Dort would cover two free throws with 1:37 to play to end a Lillard/Trent Jr. 12-0 run.
But those would be Oklahoma City’s last points of the night. Meanwhile, Lillard found Robert Covington open for a three, and netted one more of his own off an Anthony feed with 51.8 seconds to play to get the final deficit to double digits.
“He’s like a cheat code, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Enes Kanter of his current pick-and-roll partner. “And I’ve played with some great, great players but I never seen anything like this before. It’s wild.”
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 17, 2021
All told, Portland would hold Oklahoma City to zero field goals in the final five minutes of the game while outscoring the Thunder 18-4, with Lillard putting up 12 of those points on 4-of-4 shooting from three, to come away with the win.
Lillard, who either scored or assisted seven of Portland’s eight fourth-quarter field goals, led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting from the field and came relatively close to a triple-double with 10 assists and seven rebounds to go with two steals.
Had Lillard’s heroics not been a requirement for a win, the story of Tuesday’s game would have been the play of Portland’s Portland’s young wing rotation. Trent Jr. put up 19 points, four assists and gtwo steals in 38 minutes, Anfernee Simons went 5-of-9 for 15 points before fouling out in eighteen minutes and Nassir Little went a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from three to finish with 13 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
“I love it,” said Lillard. “They growing up right in front of our eyes. Maybe in the past it would be spot minutes or a game where I was sitting out or resting and CJ was resting or a blowout or we up 20 or down 20 and they’ll get out there and show stuff. But I think they growing up right in front of our eyes. They playing big, Ant, GT and Nas, Harry (Giles) as well. They playing big, they giving us great minutes and it’s not one or two games.”
Anthony added 10 points in 27 minutes and Enes Kanter grabbed 21 rebounds. Derrick Jones Jr. added 13 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a block in 30 minutes and Covington put in the definition of yeoman’s work with a line of six points, six blocks, nine rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.
Six Thunder players scored in double figured led by 23 points from Dort.
Next up, the Trail Blazers finish off a three-game trip with the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday versus the Pelicans in New Orleans. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.