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Damian Lillard Discusses Career-High After Win Over Warriors

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Lillard put the Blazers on his back and carried them past the Warriors.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers handed the Golden State Warriors their fifth loss of the season with a 137-105 beatdownon Friday night. Damian Lillard tallied a career-high 51 points and a career-high six steals in his first game after the All-Star break. CSNNW brings us inside the locker room.

Damian Lillard

I mean, it’s a great feeling; especially coming against the best team in the league, and in a win against the best team in the league, so I couldn’t be more happy with our effort defensively, because I think that’s what allowed us to get out and play at a fast pace and move the ball the way we did tonight.

Did you feel good before the game?

The last couple days in practice, I just didn’t feel great. In practice, I was turning the ball over, I wasn’t making shots, I wasn’t moving real well. I told Nate [Tibbetts] yesterday, I was like ‘Every time I feel like this, the next day I just always have it.’ I came out tonight and when I did my routine before the game, I just felt good. Going side to side and when I was pulling up off the dribble, I just felt in rhythm. The ball felt good in my hands. To start the game, we executed well, we set good screens—Ed had a lot of good screens that he set— we were able to get clean looks, and once I saw the ball go in so much early in the game, I think that’s what helped me kind of get going later in the game.

[Indiscernible] score 50?

I haven’t scored 50 since ninth grade.

How conscious were you of getting to 50?

Honestly, I don’t even remember when I went from 30 to 40, but I remember when I had 40 I hit a three, and I was like ‘That’s 43.’ I knew it was 43, and I remember CJ [McCollum] pitched me one and I hit 46 and I was like ‘I’m getting 50.’

How do you keep score during the game? Do you see the score? Do guys yell it out from the bench?

I mean, usually when I run off a bunch of points in a row, Pat [Connaughton] or usually Tim [Frazier] they’ll run out be like ‘You got this much points! You got to keep going.’ So, um… that’s usually how it goes.

You said usually—is that what happened tonight?

Tonight everybody just was going crazy and I looked up there myself and I was like ‘Man.’ I really didn’t remember when I went from— because I know I had 30 at the end of the third. I just don’t remember when I just went from 30 to 40.

I hadn’t had the game that I was having before it happened before, so I think that’s how I got to 50. Usually I’ll have, like, nine points and then I’ll run off, like, 25 and I’ll end up with 34. Tonight, I think I already had 20 points, so once I got hot it took me to that next level.

[Indiscernible] against that team [indiscernible]

I think it gives us confidence in what we’ve been doing all along the last three weeks or so. We take a lot of pride in defending, being physical, active hands, all those things, causing turnovers, and just getting out and playing. We’ve done it against the Minnesotas and Utahs and Sacramento, and did it against Memphis and the Rockets, and now we come here against the best team in the league and we’re able to still find a way to do what helps us be successful. I think that’s the best thing so we should take a lot of confidence from it.

Do you stop for this matchup? Warriors, Steph Curry, all that?

Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, it was a great opportunity for us. We had a great stretch coming into the All-Star break and right after the break we get the best team in the league. We’re expected to lose the game. It’s no pressure on us. It’s always fun to play against them—they play a fun game. Fast paced, they shoot a lot of threes, they play small ball, and I was able to…

Did you get here earlier than normal today?

I did.

Why?

I don’t know. After shoot-around, like I said, last couple day, my legs didn’t feel great, my feet didn’t feel great. Today after shoot-around, I got in the cold tub and I sat in there about 15 minutes, I got out, I was in the steam room with Chief [Al-Farouq Aminu] for, like, 15 minutes, then I went home, I put my splint on, I took a nap—I usually don’t even take naps—and when I got up, I just felt good. I ate something and it was still early, but I was just ready to go, so I got up and drove down here.

So normally you get to the arena at what time?

I usually get here around maybe 4:30, somewhere in-between 4:20 and 4:30. Today I was here… [to Ed Davis] Ed, what time did I get here today?

[Davis off screen] 3:50. Around there.

Like, 3:50. Around there, yeah.

What did you do with the extra half hour?

I mean, I came here—me and Ed—we sat here and talked for a minute because we was the only people here, then I went in there and got my foot worked on a little bit, then I came in here and watched some of the games that was going on, but that was it. Nothing crazy.

CJ McCollum

That was angry Dame. That’s an angry man out there tonight. That’s what we need. We need him to be aggressive, assertive, play with a chip on his shoulder. He carried us tonight, he hit big shots, he defended, he made hustle plays, didn’t turn the ball over—he played like an All-Star tonight.

He insists it had nothing—of course—that he has—

Had nothing to do with it. No. Nothing at all, of course.

Why was he angry?

I don’t think he’s angry, I just say that the way he played was like an angry Dame, yeah… Dame-ry.

Did that fuel you guys though? It seemed like you guys were in attack mode from the jump.

Yeah, I think it helps that we had a break. The All-Star is huge. Mentally, you get to step away, physically, your body gets a break, and I think it was good for all of us to just step away for a little bit and understand what’s in front of us; 28 games left—27 now—a big home game against a really good team who’s going to be a championship contender; a team that’s chasing history. We’re chasing the playoffs. We’re trying to put ourselves in a position where we’re right there, and we made a step forward tonight.

Stephen Curry

What was coach’s message to you guys after this one?

This is liable to happen throughout the season, just obviously keep our positive attitude, but the way we played in the third quarter with however many turnovers we had, that was the game pretty much. We had clawed our way back into it, down six at halftime and maybe cut it to five at one point and then the wheels came off. Just lost our composure when it comes to how we try to control our possessions, and that usually doesn’t happen.

Why do you think the third quarter played out that way? Did you guys relax at all, thinking you could win the game?

No, we can’t relax down… we were down, like, 15 at one point. Just, we forced the issue on a couple possessions, couple quick shots, and didn’t get any stops to help ourselves because of the turnovers. We give a team like that, with so much talent they have, live-ball turnovers and we don’t get good possessions, it’s going to be tough.

Does the long break have any sort of factor into this? Does that have anything to do with it you think?

I don’t think so. I mean, we had what, three guys that went to Toronto? But felt fresh coming back, ready to go. Had we won, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to be an issue, it was just a matter of… they made more plays than we did tonight.

Steph, you guys have been wiping out leads all season long, so tonight when you guy got behind and lost your composure, were you surprised or stunned? I mean, that’s not typically what you guys do?

We don’t usually come back twice in a game. We did it already from the first quarter—we were down whatever, 18, 15—came back, cut it within 6, 5, which is nothing for us. Rarely do we do that two times in a game. We usually take advantage of our big push and not look back. It’s just frustrating the way we played in the third quarter once we did all that work to get back into the game. I think I made a comment there at the time, I was like ‘Reward our hard work that got us back into the game by taking care of the ball and getting good possessions’ and we didn’t do it, so we deserved to lose tonight.

Klay Thompson

Careless turnovers. We weren’t focused as we should be, and we got to understand that. I mean, it’s the second half of the season, we come to town—especially for a team like that—it’s their biggest game of the year, so we got to understand that and they just caught us on an off night.

Did you feel the rust from the All-Star break at all?

I mean, a little bit. I mean, yeah, I mean, you saw in that third quarter. Going to take the positives. This is a good wakeup call for us. We got a good team tomorrow in the Clippers. We’ll do the same if we don’t take care of the ball and play focused for 48 minutes.

Do you see any similarities between maybe tonight and the Detroit game, the way you guys…?

Nah, I mean. That game was so long ago, man. I got to go back and look at it. It’s a long season, but we’re going to get beat sometimes and it’s unfortunate it happened tonight, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll bounce back tomorrow.

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