Recently it feels like Damian Lillard is a magician finding new ways to entertain the crowd and wow the masses.
There was his five points in nine seconds against Chicago. Then, Lillard’s 19 first quarter points against Philadelphia.
Next, the ridiculous 30 points he scored or assisted on in Portland’s 45-point third quarter against Dallas. Oh, and he hit the go-ahead three to help beat the Mavs the same night.
For his latest trick, Lillard made the Oklahoma City small lead disappear into a double-digit loss for the Thunder.
Portland led big after three quarters (93-79), but the margin was gone after OKC’s 19-4 run. The home team led the Blazers 102-97 before Dame Time took over.
As the headline mentions, Lillard scored or assisted on Portland’s last 18 points. He hit four threes and assisted on two more — one from Gary Trent Jr. and one from Robert Covington.
The superlatives start to feel like they’re not enough to explain what he can do.
Lillard finished with 31 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. He’s scored at least 30 points more times than not in February; five times 30-plus, three times 29 or less.
As for the rest of the team, five other players scored in double figures.
Gary Trent Jr. (19 points) and Derrick Jones Jr. (13) were the only two starters with more than eight. Off the bench, Anfernee Simons (15), Nassir Little (13) and Carmelo Anthony (10) were the double digit scorers.
Even without scoring a lot, Enes Kanter came up big for the Blazers. He finished with eight points and 21 rebounds — 14 defensive and seven offensive.
Portland won 115-104. Now, back to Dame.
If he wasn’t already, Lillard deserves to firmly be in the MVP conversation.
Will he win it? Probably not, just because it normally goes to a player on one of the “best teams” (record-wise) in the NBA.
As impressive as Portland’s position in the West (tied for the No. 4 seed) is — considering both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkić have been out during this run — it won’t be enough to convince folks that Lillard deserves the MVP award. Mostly because the MVP award has lost its meaning, that’s a conversation for another story.
For now, let’s just enjoy the latest ridiculousness that is Damian Lillard.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 17, 2021
Portland wraps up their three-game road trip on Wednesday night against New Orleans. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT.