Tonight's recap might as well be the "Damian Lillard Recap" - as the fourth-year star was absolutely sensational, obliterating the Golden State Warriors as he set career-highs in both points and steals. Lillard led the Blazers with 51 points on 64% shooting, 9 threes, 7 assists, six steals and zero turnovers to boot. Against the defending champions. With the best record at this point during the season in NBA history. Let that sink in.
Everything was going right - a fan even made the freaking half-court Toyota shot. He won a Prius. Yeah, it was that kind of night.
For the Warriors, Stephen Curry provided perhaps the most inconsequential 31 points of his career, as his Warriors were completely blown out.
Relaxed and rested was the theme of the night, as both squads busted out of the gates in tip-top form. Lillard looked energized as ever, pushing a frenetic pace as Portland opted to play a bit of Golden State's game, resulting in an exciting, back-and-forth shootout.
Lillard was sensational from the get-go, using the pick and roll early to nicely set up Mason Plumlee for driving layups before attacking the Warrior defense from the outside. He scored 17 points and dished five assists in the opening quarter as the Blazers put up perhaps its best 12 minutes of basketball so far this season.
Noah Vonleh connected on just his fifth three-pointer of the season to give Portland an early 12-9 lead, but for every punch Portland would deliver, the Warriors would hit right back. Curry hit four threes and scored 16 points of his own, but went cold for a key stretch towards the end of the period as the Blazers managed to pull away behind Lillard's brilliance.
Ten straight points from Dame, including back-to-back threes capped a 10-2 run in the final minute as Portland put the stamp on an impressive effort. Portland's 42 points are the most allowed in a quarter by Golden State this season.
End of First: Portland 42, Golden State 31
The Warriors are the champs for a reason, and a down-to-earth comeback is almost too cliche to write. Golden State's defense clamped down and managed to slow the Blazer attack.
Draymond Green showed why his versatility earned himself a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team this past weekend in Toronto, starting - and finishing - fast breaks, showing a bit of his own three-point touch, and acting as the primary facilitator of the Warriors' offense. Curry's three pulled Golden State within five at 60-55 and then Green's outlet pass to a cherry-picking Andre Iguadala made it four at 61-57.
Cold shooting stalled both sided towards the end of the half, but Vonleh managed to salvage free throws and a buzzer-beating flip off an errant pass by Lillard managed to salvage a lead heading into the locker room.
Halftime: Portland 68, Golden State 62
After a quiet first half, CJ McCollum came out strong to start the third quarter, making back-to-back jumpers and drilling a three as Portland started to re-build a 75-66 lead. Lillard returned to his earlier form, draining two more threes, slashing to the basket and expertly quarterbacking the Blazer offense. His three restored a 14 point lead, and then his off-the-backboard floater two minutes later pushed it to 17 at 90-73.
Maurice Harkless checked in with 4:53 remaining and delivered a quality shift - combining with Gerald Henderson to score Portland's last 11 points as the Blazers vaulted ahead while the Warriors went scoreless. Harkless was active on both ends of the court and proved a foil to Green's all-around activity. The five-minute stretch proved to be the deciding factor, as Portland quite literally ran out ahead and never looked back.
End of Third: Portland 104, Golden State 79
With an extraordinary upset in sight, the Blazers kept its foot on the gas until the final minutes - Lillard entered the fourth with 30 points and buried 21 more to set a new career-high, and in supremely impressive fashion.
An army of superlatives could be used Lillard's performance tonight - to truly encapsulate the story I would strongly suggest simply taking a look at the video recap. Three here. Three three. Three from I-5. Walk-up three. Step-back three. This was simply the best game of Dame's already big-ticket career and even more so as it was done against the formerly 48-4 defending champ.
Portland walks off the court with 137 points.
The Trail Blazers get a day of rest and then host the Utah Jazz in a potentially tie-breaking matchup Sunday evening at the Moda Center - tip is set for 6 pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
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