Nigeria shocked the basketball world with a 90-87 victory over Team USA in exhibition play on Saturday. Damian Lillard logged 27 minutes and 14 points in the tightly-contested loss. Against Nigeria, the Trail Blazers star guard was featured in the starting lineup alongside Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant and Bam Adebayo. In the end, Nigeria’s relentless pace and three-point shooting was too much for Team USA. Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent led the way for Nigeria with 21 points.
In the first quarter, Lillard shook off the rust with a textbook bucket from way beyond the three-point line. His basket from distance was set up in a solid two-man action with Warriors big man Draymond Green.
Lillard kept the action rolling in the second frame with another deep three-pointer.
"You can cross the International Date Line, it will always be Dame time" pic.twitter.com/TWPYTLkI8G— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 11, 2021
In the first half, Lillard recorded eight points in 14 minutes. Along with his own scoring, he logged three assists and three rebounds. Outside of Lillard’s individual stat line, Team USA claimed a slim 43-41 advantage over Nigeria in the first half. Nigeria’s NBA-infused roster pushed the pace from the opening whistle and fought for every rebound in the post. Thanks to that hustle, Team USA could not generate a cushion.
In the third quarter, with the scores close, Lillard showed off his passing chops with a superb sequence with Adebayo. After securing the pass from Lillard, Adebayo connected with Beal.
Lillard returned to the floor with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Despite a late push from Durant, Nigeria held on for a shocking 90-87 victory.
Lillard finished the night with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. He connected on four of his 10 attempts from the field. From distance, Lillard went 3-of-6. At the free throw line, the Blazers frontman connected on three of his four attempts.
Team USA returns to action on Monday with an exhibition contest against Australia.