Damian Lillard is on a mission right now. He just refuses to give up and has now led the Portland Trail Blazers to the 8th seed in the Western Conference. They’re now in control of their own destiny as they would only need to win one game in a hypothetical play-in tournament.
The Blazers got a major boost with the returns of both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. Carmelo Anthony has looked in great shape and has been a steady contributor, and Gary Trent Jr is just on fire from beyond the arc. Even so, none of that would have been enough if it wasn’t for Lillard’s heroics.
Dame ‘bounced back’ from his two botched free-throws in the clutch by putting together a couple of offensive clinics in the NBA bubble. He torched the Philadelphia 76ers for 51 points and then tied his career-high vs. the Dallas Mavericks with a 61-point piece.
Those performances helped him write his name in history books, as he became the first player in Portland Trail Blazers history to record back-to-back 50-point performances.
Dame is the first Blazer and 12th player in NBA history with back-to-back 50-point games:
Elgin Baylor pic.twitter.com/0pOwDLbgi9
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) August 12, 2020
He’s also the 12th player to achieve that milestone, along with Bradley Beal, James Harden, Devin Booker, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Antawn Jamison, Michael Jordan, Bernard King, Rick Barry, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor. He joined some elite company.
— NBA (@NBA) August 12, 2020
If that wasn’t enough, he also became the 6th player in NBA history to record at least 3 60+ games throughout his career, joining Elgin Baylor (3), James Harden (4), Michael Jordan (4), Kobe Bryant (6), and Wilt Chamberlain (32).
Others to score 60+ at least three times:
Wilt Chamberlain (32), Kobe Bryant (6), Michael Jordan (4), James Harden (4), Elgin Baylor (3). https://t.co/CLwxUcrTkX
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) August 12, 2020
And to put the cherry on top of the sundae, Dame tied Wilt Chamberlain as the only player in NBA history to have at least 3 60+ point games in one season, and he still has one game left in the regular season vs. the Brooklyn Nets, plus the play-in.
Only two NBA players have ever scored 60 points three times in one season:
➖ Damian Lillard
➖ Wilt Chamberlain pic.twitter.com/5hAEHYkjre
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 12, 2020
Lillard is a special kind of talent. He’s the ultimate leader, he won’t bail you out and will do whatever it takes to lead his Blazers to contention. Even so, it feels like he shouldn’t have to put together these kinds of performances night after night to carry his team to a win.
Other players must step up if the Blazers want to have a shot at upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, assuming they do make qualify.
For what it’s worth, I think Lillard has made quite a statement in the bubble. You should never, under any circumstances, count him out, doubt him, or even worst: poke him. He’s not fooling around.