Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers to victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night, and along the way, he settled a “war of words” with Russell Westbrook, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes reveals that Lillard had had enough of Westbrook’s antics on the Monday evening ahead of the series final. Over dinner, Lillard made his thoughts clear to friends and family.
For several minutes, the Portland Trail Blazers’ star guard sat quietly on his sofa, chowing down on fried catfish, red beans and rice, and broccoli. And then suddenly, he spoke: “I’m getting rid of these mother------- tomorrow.”
Haynes digs into the on-court antics Westbrook used to try to rile up Lillard, establishing that it backfired in a major way for the Thunder star, as it failed to get under Lillard’s skin.
“I’m not even paying attention to it,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “But when I do see it, that’s cool. He does it every game, so it doesn’t bother me. I don’t celebrate in someone’s face and try to disrespect my opponent. But if a team calls a timeout, I’ll go acknowledge the crowd and celebrate with my teammates as I’m going to the bench. I’m not going to say some wild s---. I think with him, he’s pounding his chest and talking s--- and that’s what gets him going. That’s the difference between us.”
Lillard reflects on the Game 3 behavior of Paul George, too, noting that he very nearly sank to their level at the end of Game 4 before Coach Terry Stotts subbed him out.
“S---, if I ended the game, I might have just fired a deep three at the buzzer,” he told Yahoo Sports. “But Coach took me out. I thought about telling [teammate Anfernee Simons] to shoot it, but I thought to myself that just because they did it, doesn’t mean we needed to. I yelled for him to just hold it.”
Ultimately, what matters is that Lillard refused to be baited by Westbrook’s mouth, George’s late dunk, or Dennis Schröder’s wrist-tapping. Instead, he turned it into fuel to close out Game 5 in an epic fashion that will be remembered by Rip City for years to come.
You can read more of Chris Haynes’ piece here.