Damian Lillard may have set a career-high for himself and a franchise-high for the Portland Trail Blazers with his 59-point performance on Saturday night, but he let the game ball go to the other team, according to Trail Blazers digital reporter Casey Holdahl. With 13 points on 5-12 shooting, Utah Jazz forward Joe Johnson passed the 20,000 career points milestone.
Lillard said he let the Jazz have the game ball tonight for Joe Johnson, who surpassed 20,000 points tonight.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) April 9, 2017
Johnson, 35, is in his 16th NBA season. He has averaged 16.4 points per game over the course of his career and sits at No. 42 on the NBA all-time scoring list, behind Antawn Jamison (20,042) and in front of San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (19,981).
Only six other players in the 20,000 club remain active in the league: Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks (30,228), LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (28,755), Paul Pierce of the Los Angeles Clippers (26,387), Vince Carter of the Memphis Grizzlies (24,544), Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks (24,139), and Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls (21,297).
Letting Utah have the game ball to properly honor Johnson’s well-earned place in history was a classy move by Lillard, who is a talented scorer in his own right. With any luck, he will experience the same longevity. There are still many game balls in his future.