PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard set franchise and career highs with 71 points — tied for the most in the NBA this season — and 13 3-pointers, as the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a two-game skid with a 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Lillard tied Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell for the most points in a game this season after Mitchell also scored 71 in a win over Chicago on Jan. 2. Lillard broke his own franchise mark of 61 points, which he’d done twice, on a 3-pointer with 4:42 left that also topped his career record for 3s in a game with 11.
In the final minutes, the crowd at the Moda Center was on its feet, phones recording the moment while chanting “MVP! MVP!”
Lillard left the game with 44 seconds left.
Lillard had 41 points and eight 3-pointers by halftime. It was a career-high in a half for Lillard and the most points in a half for any player in the league this season. He had 50 by the start of the fourth quarter.
71 PTS, 13 3PM, 6 REB, 6 AST…
Damian Lillard, everyone 👏 pic.twitter.com/3bHwHXEonI
— NBA (@NBA) February 27, 2023
With his 71-PT performance tonight, Damian Lillard now has the third-most 60+ PT games in NBA history with 5.
1. Wilt Chamberlain (32 games)
2. Kobe Bryant (6 games)
3. Damian Lillard (5 games) pic.twitter.com/5TGlHpjfVa
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) February 27, 2023
Lillard’s 11th 3 of the night, which tied his career high, made it 113-103 with 6:43 left. He added a driving layup and a free throw. Houston could not catch up.
Lillard started after resting for Thursday night’s 133-116 loss to Sacramento. He participated in the NBA All-Star Game and won the 3-point contest the previous weekend.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 27, 2023
The Blazers led 73-58 at the break with Lillard the 10th player since the 1996-97 season with 40-plus points in a half.
Lillard has 15 games with 50 or more points, the sixth-most in NBA history.
“I enjoy those moments in the game when I’m just going after people,” Lillard said, “when I’m in attack mode.”
And Lillard was drug tested shortly after his performance — which kind of dampened the moment because Lillard is afraid of needles.
“I know I’ve got a lot of tattoos, but when you’re doing a blood draw, it’s different from tattoos. It brought me down from here to the floor,” Lillard said gesturing from above his head and then dropping his hand.
Lillard’s 13 3-pointers were one shy of the NBA record set by Golden State’s Klay Thompson in 2018. Thompson’s Warriors teammate Stephen Curry (2016) and Chicago’s Zach LaVine (2019) also made 13 3s.
“I think any hooper enjoys those moments when you’re hot, you’re in attack mode, you’re feeling good,” Lillard said. “But it’s the stuff afterward that I struggle with, like when I walked off the court, was I supposed to be overly excited, or what?”
“It really, really was a masterful performance,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “It was a piece of art. That was incredible.”