Damian Lillard has been this good for a while now, yet he still somehow surprises us with just how good he is. The Portland Trail Blazers star scored an incredible 50 points on Tuesday night, and led the Blazers to a shocking fourth-quarter comeback over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Just how incredible was that comeback? The Blazers are the first team this season to win after being down by at least 17 points with six minutes left in the game. Portland was down 117-100 with just under six minutes to go, and ended up winning 125-124.
Dame was unstoppable
Lillard's final line was excellent, but there's an easter egg in there somewhere. Can you spot it? He scored 50 points with 10 assists and six rebounds, and finished 13-of-20 from the field, 6-of-13 on 3-pointers and 18-of-18 on free throws.
You get a gold star if you spotted it: Dame scored 50 points on just 20 shots.
Lillard was clutch all night long, with 20 of his 50 points coming in the fourth quarter. Matt Eppers of USA Today compiled Lillard's stats in clutch time, and they're unbelievable.
The NBA defines clutch time as the final five minutes of a game with a point difference of five or fewer. Lillard leads the league in clutch points with 124. He's shooting 60.3% from the field (35-of-58), 53.3% from 3-point range (16-of-30) and 100% from the foul line (38-of-38) in clutch situations.
Going deeper, in the final minute of games with a point difference of five or fewer, Lillard leads the NBA with 57 points while shooting 12-of-18 overall (66.7%), 5-of-9 on threes (55.6%) and 28-of-28 on free throws.
In the last minute of the game, Lillard was the one who sealed it for the Blazers. He scored seven points in the final 52 seconds on a layup and five free throws. The Pels fouled Lillard three times in the last minute of the game and he made them pay, not missing a single one of those free throws. He made the final two with 1.2 seconds left, which gave the Blazers a one-point lead.
In fact, the Blazers went 31-for-31 on free throws. According to ESPN, that's the most attempts without a miss in franchise history.
Lillard does everything right, even the little things. And they don't go unnoticed by the fans.
No matter what it is — free throws, jump shots, or anything else — Lillard puts the work and the time into it. That dedication and commitment shows, and Lillard is understandably proud of the work he does.
"Whether people are watching or whether you get credit for it or not, you put the time in and you do it at a game pace, you do it with focus, you do it while holding yourself to a certain standard ... just things like that, over and over and over, over the years. And you get better from the reps, but I think more so than just physically, you get better mentally and more confident in it because you've done it so often. And you've done it when you're tired, you've done it when you didn't want to. And then in the moments ... you've got the ultimate confidence that it's going in, and I think confidence is the biggest thing for shooters, right next to just getting the reps in and knowing in your heart that you didn't cheat it, you put the time in and you deserve to make those shots and you expect that result."
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