Damian Lillard gave the Orlando Magic more than they could handle in a 128-114 Portland Trail Blazers victory on Thursday night. In the process he scored a franchise-record 34 points in the second half. As it turns out, he might have had a reason.
Assembled media are reporting that a heckler in the Orlando crowd was on Lillard’s case during the first half of the game, during which he scored only 7 of his eventual 41 points. After halftime, the story changed.
Damian Lillard on Orlando heckler: "He just kept hollering my name. ‘Oh, he don’t want to play tonight. He ain’t that good.’ The whole 1st half, he just wouldn’t shut up. I got tired of it. I told him at the end of the 2nd Q, we’re going to see. He kept on talking. And we saw."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) October 26, 2018
As always, Trail Blazers photographer Bruce Ely picks up the perfect shot.
Orlando fan heckling Dame during his free throws got some words from Dame after that final possession of half. pic.twitter.com/JxZpHqEw3K— Bruce Ely (@bruceely) October 26, 2018
Reflecting with Brooke Olzendam, Lillard explains what the second half felt like:
The obvious lesson from the affair is not to mess with opposing teams’ All-Stars...especially not THIS All-Star. Still, the Blazers need constant execution more than they need sporadic motivation. Giving a heckler his due is a great way to grab a road win for a night. “Us vs. THEY” is a little 2015 for this veteran club to ride through the season with. Hopefully the Blazers will continue their internal motivation, even on nights when everything isn’t clicking. Either that, or Portland should just plant an insult comic in the front row of every opposing stadium and ride the wave to the best record in the NBA.