Damian Lillard ended his two-year All-Star drought by scoring 21 points in just 21 minutes of action in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. As the Trail Blazers’ only representative in Los Angeles this weekend, Lillard put his stamp on the event by converting impressive shots beyond the arc. Despite his efficient effort, Lillard’s side fell apart late in the game as Team Stephen fell to Team LeBron 148-145. Final score notwithstanding, Dame’s big night was a clear win for Rip City, one of the best All-Star performances from a Trail Blazers player ever.
Making My Way Downtown
Damian Lillard’s night began at the 5:45 mark in the first quarter with Team Stephen ahead 19-17. Lillard found himself right at home in a small backcourt, as he started his shift with Kyle Lowry at the other guard spot. After a couple of misses from beyond the arc, Lillard got on the board by converting a Klay Thompson miss into a midrange jumper.
Lillard found success again by assisting Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns on a 14-foot hook shot at the 3:05 mark in the first quarter. With under 30 seconds remaining Lillard expanded Team Stephen’s lead to 11 points as he sliced through the paint.
Lillard remained on the court as the second quarter got underway, and it didn’t take him long for him to change the game with an astonishingly deep three-pointer.
With Team Stephen up 50-42 and 8:09 remaining in the second quarter Lillard was subbed out. He wouldn’t return in the half, but finished with 7 points in 10 minutes of action.
Points Per Minute Maestro
Lillard’s second half started early, as he opened the third quarter on the floor. After a opening miss, he quickly rediscovered his shooting rhythm, connecting on a 20-foot shot. Joel Embiid added to Lillard’s assist total by converting an open three-pointer, and later returned the favor by assisting Dame on a three-pointer of his own at the 7:31 mark.
Lillard netted another midrange jumper before being subbed off with 6:04 remaining in the third. After of Dame’s 7 points in 6 minutes, Team Stephen held a 95-to-91 lead at that point. They’d finish the period up 112-109.
Lillard picked up right where he left off to start the fourth quarter. He got things rolling with a put-back layup, adding three more points to his boxscore a minute later by converting yet another long bomb over the outstretched arm of Kevin Durant.
Lillard expanded Team Stephen’s lead to 13 points with his final basket at the 6:57 mark in the fourth period. Team Stehpen led 133-120, but Dame would never return to the action. With Lillard on the bench, Team LeBron eventually rallied to claim a 148-145 victory.
Third Time’s A Charm
Damian Lillard’s 21 points in tonight’s contest surpassed his point total from his first two All-Star Game appearances combined. Before exiting for the final time, Lillard tied with DeMar DeRozan as Team Steph’s leading scorer, despite playing seven fewer minutes. LeBron James led all scorers with 29.
Lillard supplemented his scoring by recording 2 assists and 3 rebounds in his 21 minutes of action.
According to Robert Littal of BSO, Lillard also received the only All-Star MVP vote that didn’t go to James.
LeBron was almost unanimous NBA All-Star MVP. One fan vote for Lillard pic.twitter.com/Z1JJMeOwyG— Robert Littal (@BSO) February 19, 2018
Damian Lillard and the Blazers will return to action on Friday to face the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com