Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard scored nine points in the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas on Thursday. The USA White team defeated Lillard's USA Blue team, 128-106. USA White's Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 23 points and added seven assists.
Lillard started for the USA Blue team and had a strong first quarter, but his shot deserted him as the game wore on. He mostly played point guard and spent a lot of the game matched up on Irving. His full box score line: nine points (on 4-for-14 shooting and 1-for-5 from deep), three assists, one rebound, two steals and four fouls in 24 minutes.
Most of Lillard's best moments came early. He stole the ball from Irving in a high screen-and-roll situation, he threw down a dunk, he found Davis with a behind-the-back pass in transition for a lay-up, and he exploited a mismatch on a switch to knock down a pretty stepback three-pointer.
From there, things came off the rails a little bit, as he was a bit too eager to attack with his left hand. He wasn't able to get to the foul line or the rim on a number of drives, and he took a number of ill-advised off-balance layups while having at least one blocked. Lillard wound up shooting 1-for-8 in the second half, although the one was a strong two-handed dunk after he snuck behind the defense on the weakside baseline. He pulled the trigger a bit too quickly on a few jumpers, but none were totally egregious considering the setting.
The Showcase wasn't a particularly hard-fought game, and Lillard's play Thursday isn't going to do anything to his standing either way. None of the other point guards, aside from Irving, played significantly better than he did, and Irving is already seen as a lock to make the 2014 FIBA World Cup team.
Thursday's Showcase completed a USA Basketball minicamp that ran in Las Vegas since Monday. The Day One round-up from Monday is right here, the Day Two round-up from Tuesday is right here, and the Day Three round-up from Wednesday is right here.
Here's a partial transcript of Lillard's post-game comments...
There were a lot of oohs and aahs on the passes. That's what they come here to see. We're here to compete against each other, give ourselves a chance to make the team.
Second half, USA White pulled away
We were smaller. They pounded us on the boards, they out-rebounded us. That led to a lot of transition dunks and open shots. We could have done a better job communicating in transition. We could have gotten some better shots on offense, but they just played a better game than us.
It was a competitive game. nobody really had a lot to say about it.
I thought I played OK. I missed some shots. I had a couple of good looks that I felt like I should have made that I didn't make. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself doing things the right way, making every shot. I just wanted to play the game the way I would if I was on the team.
Going against Kyrie Irving
It was the first time that we had actually matched up against each other. He's competitive, I'm competitive. For a second in that first quarter, we got going back and forth a little bit. It was fun. Eventually the execution kicked in, we started running a lot of pick-and-roll, he played a good floor game, their team just played a better overall game than us.
Sum up the week
I thought I had a really good week. I thought I played well overall, this whole week. I learned things from the coaches and from watching the other point guards here. Just the whole experience, what it's all about, a lot of people don't get this opportunity. I was in the moment, soaked it all up.
Happy with impression you left on Coach Krzyzewski?
I thought I left a great impression. They talked a lot about character, the type of people it takes to be a part of something like this. I think they all saw that I'm the type of person who can adapt and be a part of something like Team USA. I can definitely do what I have to do to be a part of the team. I think I left a great impression.
I go back to the gym. Keep working on my game. That's all I can do. This was a lot of excitement because we actually had a game-type situation, minicamp leading up to it. I won't have this again until the preseason. Just get back into the gym and get ready for next year.
Players you got close to over the week
This entire summer, I've been around John Wall a lot. John Wall, that's my guy. One of my best friends in the league now. Kyrie, me and Kyrie [are] real cool. Paul George, Harrison Barnes, [Dion] Waiters. A lot of guys. DeMar DeRozan, me and him have been friends, but we were on the same team a lot. Those guys, probably the closest.
Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony were in attendance, did they say anything to you guys?
I said what's up to Melo for a second, he was just passing through. Saying what's up, how you doing. Small talk. I didn't see CP, but I saw him [earlier] this summer.
Post-game message in locker room
Coach K didn't address the team. We had coaches, Coach [Tom] Thibodeau was our coach, I think Monty Williams was the other team's coach. Coach K pretty much sat back and observed, I think that's what he wanted to do.
Still working out with Gary Payton?
Summer is not even close to being over. We've got a lot of time. Hopefully we will.
Thanks to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com with help on the audio.
Here's a game rundown from Mike Tokito of The Oregonian.
Here's a photo gallery from Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com that has images from the showcase.
Here are some video highlights from YouTube user Dawk Ins (via @ShemLL):
Here are the full rosters for the event in case you missed them earlier. Starters are bolded.
USA Blue Team
Harrison Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Damian Lillard, Greg Monroe, Klay Thompson, Dion Waiters, Kemba Walker, John Wall
Coach: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls
USA White Team
Ryan Anderson, Mike Conley, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ty Lawson, Chandler Parsons, Tyler Zeller
Coach: Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans
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-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter