“You need to have a short memory” is one of the oldest truisms in sport. You cannot dwell on the last loss, that last turnover, or that last miss. As with most things, Damian Lillard takes it to the next level. Trail Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl explains after Lillard’s last-second game-winner against the Los Angeles Lakers.
In Lillard’s case, not only was his memory short, it was also false.
“Was I?” said Lillard when told he had shot 20 percent from three for the game going into the final possession. “I felt like I made a few. In my mind, I made a few.”
It is one thing to be able to put past failure completely out of you mind. It is quite another to convince yourself that past failure was actually success.
In fact, though, Lillard wasn’t thinking about past success or past failure at the time of the shot. It was all about being in the present and only in the present.
“You 0-for-0 in that moment. I go back to my very first game-winner against New Orleans my rookie year, I had a terrible shooting game but I was able to block that out. All that mattered was that moment. No different tonight.”
There is room to criticize Lillard for how he has closed out games in recent weeks. As recently as the previous night he had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game against the Utah Jazz and came up empty. However, Lillard cannot be criticized for a lack of confidence, and his game-winner against the Lakers is a defining example. Bet against Lillard in the clutch at your peril. You might remember times that he’s come up short, but, in the moment, he won’t.