Season In Review: Damian Lillard
By caseyholdahl Posted in: damianlillard
STAT LINE OF THE SEASON
37 points (15-12 from the field, 7-12 from 3), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals versus Golden State Warriors on Jan. 11
There's not much more that can be said when it comes to Damian Lillard's rookie season. So rather than reading what I have to say about Lillard's 2012-13 campaign, I thought it might be nice to look back on what Lillard, his teammates and coaches, along with opposing players and coaches, had to say about some of his most impressive performances.
Oct. 31: Damian Lillard's professional career begins with a Halloween Night game against Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and the rest of the Lakers at the Rose Garden. Lillard wins the point guard duel (while inadvertently breaking Nash's leg) with 23 points, 11 assists and 3 rebounds.
, Trail Blazers point guard: "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive… make Steve Nash have to play both ends of the floor and that’s what I decided to do, make him work and try to make plays for my teammates."
, Trail Blazers Head Coach: "Damian played well. We’ve still got to work on his turnovers – there were a couple possessions where I thought he tried to do a little too much. But really, on the whole, for his outing, for him to have 23 and 11 in a game like this was pretty impressive."
Nov 3: Trail Blazers defeat the Rockets 95-85 in overtime in Houston for their first road win of the season. Lillard scores 16 of his 20 points in the second half, including 8 in overtime. He also finishes with 9 assists and 6 rebounds.
, Trail Blazers power forward: "He made big shots for us, and that's what we need from him."
: "I just told him to keep doing everything else and not concentrate on scoring. He was huge for us in overtime."
: "(Aldridge) had it rolling, he was dominating the game offensively, and I just wanted to make sure I was in the position to knock the shots down. He got going and I was able to get easier shots."
Nov. 5: Lillard gets one of his worst shooting nights out of his system early in a 114-91 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas. Lillard goes 2-13 from the field, including going 1 for 8 from the 3-point line.
STOTTS: "He missed some open looks that he’s been making. He saw some pick-and-roll defense. They were very aggressive in the second half; blitzing and trying to take the ball out of his hands. And we anticipated them doing it. We didn’t have necessarily enough time to prepare for it. But, I think more teams will do that and it’s one of the adjustments that we need to anticipate."
: "It was a tough night. I got some good looks, didn't make shots. That's pretty much it. I tried to stick with it. I got some early fouls and that took the rhythm out of it for me."
Nov. 16: The Trail Blazers beat the Rockets once again in overtime. Portland gets stellar performances from Nicolas Batum (35 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (29 points), but it's Lillard who steals the show, scoring 16 of Portland's final 21 points.
: "(Lillard) played great. He had ice in his veins. Took big shots, made big shots."
, Rockets Assistant Coach: "Sometimes you have to tip your hat and say, 'Batum, those are great shots,' and 'Lillard, those are great shots.'"
Nov. 23: Damian goes 11 of 17 from the field on the way to a career-high 28 points in a 103-95 win against the Timberwolves at the Rose Garden, a mark he would break less than a month later.
, Minnesota Head Coach: Timberwolves head Coach: “They shot the heck out of it. They made every shot, and we didn’t play the pick-and-roll defense as well as we needed to. Give them credit. They made shots.”
, Timberwolves power forward: ""Wes Matthews (30 points) and Lillard ... they just couldn't miss. It's as easy as that."
Nov. 28: In one of the low points of the season, the Trail Blazers lose 84-82 to the Washington Wizards, a team that was 0-12 at the time. Lillard scores 20 points but needs 21 shots to do it and committed a crucial turnover with 28 seconds to play. The game ended with JJ Hickson missing what would have been a game-tying shot.
: "I was supposed get it, L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge) was supposed to set a ball screen in the middle. I saw that that whole side of the floor was open, but when I went I saw that J.J. (Hickson) was wide open because they had a miscommunication, so I slowed down and my defender had a chance to get a better position on me. I knew that his man would keep coming and commit so I made the late pass to J.J. and it was probably a little bit off and he missed the shot."
Nov. 30: In the next game in Boston, Lillard, along with every other Trail Blazer, struggles from the field in a 96-78 loss to the Celtics in Boston. By this time, opposing defenses have figured out that Lillard is they key to Portland offense and begin game-planning accordingly.
, Celtics Head Coach: "We trapped pick-and-rolls, which we don’t do (that) much anymore. We’re bringing it back, because I think it’s coming back. So we did that and our guys stayed with it. Usually we show and get out. We just decided, you know, (Damian) Lillard is terrific but he’s a rookie and young, and probably hadn’t seen a lot of traps that stayed with the ball. And basically that’s what we did."
: "He's got to learn from tonight and we as a team have to learn that, when they're trapping him that aggressively, how to handle that, how to escape from a trap, how to get the ball out. And we as a team have to give him outlets… I didn't think he forced it. We have to do a better job of helping him when teams are being aggressive with him, and we'll do that."
Dec. 13: Lillard has his first big nationally-televised performance in a 98-90 victory against the Spurs at the Rose Garden. Lillard outplays perennial all-star Tony Parker with a then career-high 29 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 6 assists despite early foul trouble.
: "The two fouls early got him out of it a little bit, but he played the whole second quarter and like you’ve seen most of this year, he was pretty much unfazed by the foul trouble and was able to play the rest of the game. I thought he did a nice job of changing up jump shots and drives. He was kind of taking what the game gave him. With 29, 7 and 6, it was a really good all around game."
, Trail Blazers forward: "He did a great job, scoring, rebounding, passing. I’m not really surprised right now about Damian. I was surprised a couple weeks ago, I’m not now."
, Spurs Head Coach: "I think he’s a wonderful player. His skills are obvious, but I like his demeanor as much as I like his skills. He really plays within himself, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t play hard. He’s aggressive, he’s not afraid of contact, but he’s got a real fine demeanor and understanding of what’s going on out on the court. He can shoot it and he can drive it, and I think he works hard on D. He’s a fine young player for Portland."
: "I knew (Parker) was going to be a tough cover for me, just like every other night. I just wanted to attack the game – offensively, defensively, just try to make it as tough as possible for him to get his shot off and make those floaters a little tougher for him."
Dec. 16: Tied at 92-92 with four seconds to play, Damian Lillard hits a game-winning three-pointer to give the Trail Blazers a 95-94 victory (Lance Thomas made a two-point shot as time expired) against the Hornets at the Rose Garden. Lillard finished the game with 16 points.
: "There was 11 seconds left and we were just going to run flat and I was going to take the last shot. But we knew they had a foul to give. I tried to get the shot off when he went to foul me with 4 seconds left. At the end it was a play like we did in Cleveland. If Nic wasn’t open, I would throw it to Luke, get the handback and try to get a shot off. Luke did a good job of coming to the ball, he handed it back to me and I got a good look."
, Hornets Point Guard: "He hit a tough shot. I should have been more aggressive. He hit a big shot. Good for him."
, Trail Blazers Guard: "They made like 10, 11, 12 threes or something like that at a 50-something percent clip. That’s credit to them and also bad on our part allowing a team we know shoots the three ball as well as they do, do that. But hey, we fought, we dug out of it and Damian hit a big time shot."
Dec. 26: After breaking a five-game losing streak with a 108-96 loss to the Kings in Sacramento on Dec. 23, the Trail Blazers win the rubber match 109-91 the day after Christmas. The Trail Blazers combine for 31 assists, 11 courtesy of Lillard. It would be the second-highest single game assist total for Lillard.
: "We’ve been moving the ball really well. I just think that shows how much more we trust each other now. We’re just making plays for each other and guys have enough confidence to make shots."
Jan. 11: Lillard played in Oakland, his hometown, for the first time in his professional career in a 103-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. After a slow start, Lillard exploded in the second half, scoring 29 of his then career-high 37 points in the second half, turning what had been a blowout into a six-point loss.
, Warriors Head Coach: "I’ve watched (Lillard) since Chicago’s pre-draft camp, a little bit in college and we worked him out here – I don’t think it did anything for him. He’s a heck of a basketball player no matter where he is. It’s great to see it because of the way he conducts himself and the way he plays - great poise. He’s going to be around for a long time. We’re going to have to deal with him. A great performance by him."
: "I was proud of our guys they didn’t quit, they kept playing. Obviously Damian had it going and we rode him the second half. He was very special in the second half."
, Warriors Guard: "He has talent. He’s probably going to be Rookie of the Year and he showed a lot tonight. I look forward to playing him again, hopefully we stop him."
: "If Damian didn’t get hot then the game would have been over with a lot earlier. Damian played his butt off here at home."
: "It was great to see a lot of familiar faces out there. There were a lot of people that I grew up with and came across when I was growing up as a kid in Oakland. To see them and have them and have them come out and support me, it felt good to see that I had impacted people growing up."
Feb. 1: Another homecoming for Lillard playing in Utah for the first time since being drafted out of Weber State. Hundreds of fans show up to support Lillard, who scored 26 in a 86-77 loss.
: "It just felt like a welcome home. People I have been around for the last four years, coming to support me even though all of them are probably long-time Jazz fans...for them to cheer that loud when I came out, it meant a lot."
Feb. 12: The Trail Blazers visit Miami after having lost the previous game to the Magic in which Lillard scored just 4 points o 1 of 16 shooting. The Trail Blazers actual had a lead late in the fourth quarter before the Heat rallied for a 117-104. Lillard scored 33 points, then a career-high, in the loss.
: "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I got a lot of shots up yesterday in practice. I wanted to try to force my rhythm so when I came down to it, I would be in rhythm and making shots. That’s all I really wanted to do. After the game in Orlando, I couldn’t wait to play again. I needed to be aggressive. If I came out passive, it would have been likely that I would have had another night like I did in Orlando. My confidence is still high."
: "I wasn’t worried. He doesn’t lose any confidence. I knew he would come back strong tonight."
: "(Lillard) keeps improving and I think it is in more ways than just looking at a box score. He keeps doing what he is doing even while he is a focal point of the other team’s defense. That is not easy to do. For a rookie to play at a consistently high level when people are pressuring you more and still be an effective player, that is a credit to his improvement."
March 8: Lillard scores 25 in the second half on the way to a career-high 35 points in a 136-106 blowout of the Spurs in San Antonio. For whatever reason, Lillard, who also finished the game with nine assists and no turnovers, seems to play with a little something extra against one of the perennial powers of the Western Conference.
: "(Lillard) was pretty special. He just bide his time in the first half. (LaMarcus) Aldridge was playing so well. In the second half, Lillard just took over and we just couldn’t stop him. They had a great night shooting. They shot the hell out of it."
, Spurs power forward: "(Lillard) was great. The game just got away from us."
: "I got a couple of layups and shot a free throw and I knew when I made the free throw, the ball felt really good out of my hands. I got really aggressive and the ball started going in. I noticed that I was getting a little bit of separation so I felt like it was working for us, so I kept being aggressive. It’s like a confidence where you feel like everything is fine. When I was scoring and making plays, I felt like we were going to be fine. If I needed to get a bucket, I could get a bucket. It’s just being comfortable with it. I felt like I could get places and make things happen."
March 21: After dropping back-to-back winnable road games against the Sixers and Bucks, the Trail Blazers defeat the Bulls 99-89 at the United Center in one of their better defensive performances of the season. Lillard scores 22 in the win while playing in one of the most famous venues in the NBA.
: "This was another one of those arenas that had a different feel to it. I mean, when the music came on -- dun, dun dun -- I was like, man I used to get hyped over this, me and my brother, when Jordan played for the Bulls. So it was a good feeling. We laughed about it before the game. It was a fun game."
April 10: The Trail Blazers are on a nine-game losing streak when they host the Lakers, a team that needs every win late in the season to make the playoffs, at the Rose Garden. Kobe Bryant and Lillard go shot-for-shot for most of the game before the Lakers pull away for a 113-106 victory. Lillard would finish with a career-high 38 points, though Bryant would lead all scorers with 47 while playing all 48 minutes.
, Lakers guard: "(Lillard) is really, really good, and you can’t expect a player like that to cool off. We had to take the ball out of his hands and make other guys make shots… He’s fantastic. Really fantastic. It wasn’t a game where he was just hot. A lot of players get hot… I told him he was a bad boy. He was out there cooking with gasoline tonight."
, Lakers Head Coach: "That’s about as good as you can get. That’s about as good a rookie as I’ve ever seen. He looks like he’s played 10 years in the league, and at the highest level."
: "It was Damian versus Kobe. Both of those guys had it going. That was fun to watch. It was fun to be out there."
: "Well (Lillard) came out really focused. You could tell. He attacked the game from the very beginning, he was very assertive. He’s done it before – not 38 points, but I liked with Wes and Nic out, he knew that we needed the extra scoring and he picked up a lot of the slack."
: "I figured (Bryant) would have a good game, as usual, but I made the first couple shots and we were playing a fast paced game, trying to run them up and down because they were coming off a back to back. In the flow of the game, I was able to get going. Everybody was telling me to just keep being aggressive and don’t stop attacking. I just kept attacking."