As soon as the ball left Damian Lillard ’s fingers, it appeared inevitable the ball would drop into the basket. However then it didn’t.
The ball hit off the again of the rim. It sailed excessive above the basket. Regardless of. The Portland Path Blazers’ star stays optimistic about all the things. So Lillard advised himself, “I feel that’s going to go in.” Seconds later, it did. So close by teammate Carmelo Anthony remarked, “It wasn’t meant for us to lose.”
Quickly sufficient, Anthony’s prediction proved right. Portland escaped with a 134-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks, permitting the Path Blazers (34-39) to cross the Memphis Grizzlies (33-39) for eighth place within the Western Convention with one seeding recreation remaining. And that outcome largely traces again to Lillard. He scored 61 factors, whereas taking pictures 17-of-32 from the sphere, 9-of-17 from deep and 18-of-18 from the free-throw line. He grew to become solely the second participant in NBA historical past, together with Wilt Chamberlain, to log three 60-point video games in a single season. And he punctuated the efficiency with a 33-foot 3-pointer that he knew would sink into the basket.
— NBA (@NBA) August 12, 2020
“I feel that was my cousin. Relaxation in peace, Chef B,” Lillard mentioned. “I feel that was him dropping that in for me.”
Damian Lillard revealed throughout his postgame press convention that his cousin, Brandon, died when he was quarantined in Portland after the NBA suspended the season in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak. He had deliberate to cease by Lillard’s home to make breakfast, however he handed out. As soon as Lillard arrived at his cousin’s place, he had already died.
That ache has stayed with Lillard amid his quest to assist the Blazers seem within the postseason for a seventh consecutive profession, in addition to clap again at opponents and media members that haven’t accepted he has turn out to be the NBA’s finest participant throughout the restarted season.
“It was powerful,” LIllard mentioned. “I simply attempt to proceed what I really feel like he would need me to do, and I simply been coping with it that manner. Simply attempt to proceed on the trail I do know he was pleased with.”
— NBA (@NBA) August 12, 2020
It appears protected to consider that Brandon feels pleased with Damian Lillard today. He posted 61 factors in opposition to Dallas on Sunday, which falls only one level shy of Kobe Bryant’s 62-point efficiency in opposition to the Mavericks within the 2005-06 season. After scoring 51 factors in opposition to Philadelphia on Sunday, Lillard grew to become solely the eighth participant to log at the least 5 50-point video games in a single season. And he had these performances after uncharacteristically lacking two free throws and a possible game-tying 3-pointer in a loss Saturday to the Clippers, which sparked repeated trash speak among the many Clippers’ Paul George and Patrick Beverely in addition to Lillard.
These video games have turn out to be so memorable that Portland coach Terry Stotts likened Lillard’s current effort to when he scored 50 factors and a 37-foot series-clinching game-winner in playoffs final yr in opposition to the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.
“You bought to place them in context of how essential the sport is,” Stotts mentioned. “If we lose this recreation we’d not make it to the playoffs. So the magnitude of this recreation, although it’s in an empty fitness center and in a bubble, the season was on the road and that makes it up there with the Oklahoma Metropolis recreation.”