In a 101-86 victory over the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz, the two-time NBA All-Star exploded for 59 points, which is a career-high and is now the most in Portland’s franchise history. Lillard shot 18-34 from the field, 9-14 from three, and 14-16 from the foul-line. He added six rebounds, five assists, one steal, and absolutely no turnovers.
For the most part, the Jazz, who were missing George Hill, struggled with their perimeter defense. It was difficult to go over screens which freed up Lillard for open looks, and per usual, he made them pay.
“I knew coming into the game that I was going to attack them knowing how important this game was,” Lillard said via Sports Illustrated. “I decided early that I’m going to come out here and impose my will on them and see how it goes. I saw the ball go in and I was able to get rolling in the first quarter. … I stayed on the gas the whole time, and that’s what I felt like needed to happen to make sure that we won this game.”
Coming into Saturday’s matchup, Damian was having difficulties shooting the ball. In his last three games, he was averaging 21.0 points on 30% field-goals and 22% from three. This was not just your ordinary breakthrough.
Maurice Harkless (6-7 FG) added 12 points and three steals in Portland’s win, while Al Farouq Aminu grabbed twelve rebounds off the Blazers’ bench. Lillard’s backcourt teammate C.J McCollum didn’t have the best night, going for nine points on 4-20 shooting.
All-Star forward Gordon Hayward led Utah with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, but unfortunately suffered a quad contusion. Rudy Gobert double-doubled with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and added four blocks in the loss.
Quite notably, forward Joe Johnson scored 13, but also surpassed the 20,000 total mark for his career. The former Atlanta Hawks star is now in his fifteenth season.
This was a well-timed performance for Lillard, as the final games of the season are coming to a close, it’s going to be important for Damian to nullify the Blazers’ push for the eighth-and-final seed of the Western Conference.
With the injury to Jusuf Nurkic, it doesn’t make life any easier for Portland, but you won’t hear them making any excuses. The Blazers will face the San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans for their final two games of the regular season, as they are a 1.5 over the Denver Nuggets.