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Lillard's Career-High 37 Not Enough For Win In Oakland

01/12/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Damian Lillard put on a show in front of hundreds of friends and family members in his hometown of Oakland, California, scoring a career-high 37 points. However, Portland seemed like they were spent from last night's emotional win and were behind most of the game. Lillard (six rebounds, four assists) led a charge late but the Trail Blazers (20-16) fell 103-97 to the Warriors (22-12).

    If there is any such thing as a good loss, tonight was as beautiful a loss as there could be. Portland seemed emotionally and physically spent early on in the game. That is of course except for Lillard, who was playing in his hometown, Oakland, CA, for the first time in his professional career. Tonight was a career night for Lillard. He had the whole arsenal on display, shooting from deep and getting to the basket.

    Lillard set the franchise record for three-pointers made in a game with seven and became only the fourth rookie in NBA history to score 37 points and make seven threes. He became the fourth Trail Blazers rookie to score 37 points in a game with his performance and were also a season high for the Trail Blazers. In the context of this year and the league, he is the seventh player in the NBA this season to score 37 points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing four assists.

    The Trail Blazers shot 23 percent in the first half.

    "Nobody had anything going in the first half. We had a lot of shots at the rim and missed some of those opportunities," Terry Stotts said. "You have those nights."

    It was one of those nights for the majority of the Portland Trail Blazers. Other than Lillard, no Trail Blazers player shot over 50 percent and there were countless lay-up attempts that you would expect to go in that did not. Portland was missing bunnies, something that was seemingly connected to their game last night. The Warriors, hungry after a loss where they were outworked by the Grizzlies, came out fast and were giving an offensive clinic. Of their 41 made field goals, 28 of them were assisted and they dominated Portland in the paint, outscoring them 48-32.

    Portland was down by only 15 at halftime and were hanging around. They made a run at the beginning of the third quarter but Warriors coach Mark Jackson, sensing the danger called an early timeout as Portland made it a 14 point game. Golden State would extend the lead to 18. With 4:16 left in the game, Lillard was determined to not let his homecoming end in an embarrassing way and took over. He would score 24 points in 11 minutes of basketball and ended up scoring 29 second half points. It was a clinic.

    It was one of "those nights," for Portland but as we've come to know, they kept fighting and made it a game.

    Portland struggled all night with their spacing and Stotts elected to put in Luke Babbitt (10 points) in with Jared Jeffries (three points, five rebounds, two assists). Babbitt hit a three early in the fourth quarter, where Portland began down by 15 points. Jeffries was disruptive on the defensive end, grabbed rebounds and was also making plays to help get Lillard good looks in his 13 minutes of basketball. The Warriors tried to double Lillard but he kept getting loose and kept hitting shots.

    Portland got Golden State's lead to as low as six for a lot of the fourth quarter, they got it down to three at one point, but every time Portland threatened to make the game any closer, the Warriors would answer. Carl Landry was a problem for Portland all night on the block as he scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Stephen Curry (22 points, 12 assists) and David Lee (24 points, 10 rebounds) did what they do getting double-doubles and hitting shots when Portland needed them. Jarrett Jack had a good game off the bench as well, with nine points, seven assists and six rebounds.

    Portland as a team was overmatched but even in the loss, it was Lillard's performance in his hometown that stole the show. The "oohs" and "aahs" in the Oracle Arena were something that no win or loss can take away. He graced his hometown with a performance that those who were there  or watched it on television will never forget. Lillard's night may as well have wrapped up the Rookie Of The Year award for 2012. However, he won't be happy with moral victories and individual accolades. Portland has a tough one on Sunday, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook coming to the Rose Garden.

    Stotts called Lillard's 29 point second half "special." Although it was special, Portland still lost. A memorable performance but one that was bittersweet.   

    The Trail Blazers have a day off before they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night at 6PM. That game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.


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