The Portland Trail Blazers were losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 103-95 with just over three minutes left to play last night. The Blazers won the game 115-110, because Damian Lillard lost his mind.
Lillard scored 17 points in the final three minutes, hitting five of the six ballsy, I’m-going-to-win-this-all-on-my-own shots he attempted. Look at this man go:
No shooter can match Steph Curry in terms of audacity or efficiency, but Damian Lillard is always willing to give it his best shot. Last season, Curry attempted 4.4 pull-up threes per game and hit 42 percent of them, but Lillard was right behind him (and James Harden), jacking up 3.8 per game and hitting 32 percent. This year, Curry’s up to 5.4 pull-up threes per game, and Lillard is trying hard to keep pace at 4.7 attempts per game. Curry is of course sinking an absurd 41 percent of those shots, but Lillard’s netting a respectable 33 percent.
Sure, there are going to be nights when Lillard shoots his team out of a game, but you have to respect a guy who watches Steph Curry, a real-life glitch in the game, and says to himself, “Yeah, I can do that, too.” It’s that confidence that allows Lillard to singlehandedly swing a game with a 17-point blitz, and those runs provide their own kind of fun. Curry’s the best show in the NBA, but his moments of brilliance are starting to feel pre-ordained; Lillard can still offer the thrill of a player reaching for the next level.