This one will stick around for a while.
It may not be your number one future go-to Blazer memory, but I bet you’ll remember that time Damian Lillard put a bunch of bench warmers on his back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against another bunch of bench warmers.
With his team in desperate need, Lillard had one for the ages, scoring a career-high 61 points and willing the Blazers over the Golden State Warriors 129-124 in overtime.
On a night where the TNT broadcast couldn’t let you forget just how hopeless and injury-depleted both teams were, Dame put on an electrifying one man show that for at least a moment might let you forget about the circumstances around which it occurred.
Yes, the Warriors are the worst team in the league. Yes, the Blazers only improved to 19-26 and still have a long way to go just to get to the fringe of the playoff picture. But performances like this are few and far between and should be celebrated. It’s also good to know at least one guy still gives a damn.
It was the 8th 50-point game of Lillard’s career and the highest Martin Luther King Day point total in NBA history, breaking Kemba Walker’s previous record of 52. His 11 threes set a new franchise record, breaking his own mark of 10.
He also had 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Down to just to nine active players (although only 7 played more than 10 minutes), it was up to Dame to keep the ship afloat. And keep the engine running. And pilot it. And cook the food. Even with his best effort, Portland had to play from behind most of the night and took a historic performance from Lillard just to take care of business.
He didn’t get a lot of help.
Hassan Whiteside was dependable, if not ill-tempered, racking up another double-double with 17 points and 21 rebounds to go along with 6 blocks, one of which led to a key bucket in transition near the end of regulation to force overtime. He took a hearty shot to the groin in the process for his effort.
Following up his now nationally renowned 30-point “flu-game” against the Thunder, Gary Trent Jr. wasn’t able to deliver another gem, knocking in just 11 of a measly bench unit’s 18 points.
The Blazers get a few days off before hosting the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.