- Damian Lillard leads the NBA in “clutch” scoring and has had a sequence of dramatic finishes.
- Lillard mentioned he cherished the tip of video games understanding it was time to step up and his workforce would win.
- The Blazers now play shorthanded, however there’s optimism about their look as soon as wholesome.
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There may not be a greater time within the NBA proper now than “Dame Time”.
Damian Lillard led the Portland Path Blazers to 6 straight wins and 9 of their final 11, whereas sending shockwaves by means of the league together with his late-game heroics.
For the season, Lillard is averaging 29.8 factors per sport on 45% photographs, 38% on three, whereas racking up 4.4 rebounds and distributing 7.7 assists per sport.
However his current play within the house stretch has earned him MVP consideration, which is not any small feat. This year’s crowded MVP race.
Lillard leads the NBA by scoring in “the clutch,” which the NBA defines because the final 5 minutes of a sport with the rating inside 5 factors.
Lillard scored 88 factors in 57 minutes of “clutch” play. At a time when baskets are more durable to seek out, Lillard shoots a ridiculous 63% from the sphere, 58% from three and 100% from the road, hitting his 24 free throw makes an attempt. He additionally has 14 assists.
The Blazers are 12-3 in these instances, that are referred to as “Dame Time”.
On Tuesday, Lillard helped the Blazers beat the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder by scoring or helping the Blazers’ final 18 factors.
Blazers heart Enes Kanter informed reporters after the Thunder win: “I’ve by no means seen something prefer it earlier than, and I’ve performed with some actually good gamers. It is wild. He is like a cheat code … there isn’t any solution to preserve it. “
After the sport, Lillard defined his philosophy of resuming late video games. The 5-time All-NBA participant informed reporters he enjoys the problem and if he fails he is ready to bear the blame.
“When the time comes – the second of fact, I assume – the place it is time to win or lose, a play must be made, a blow must be made, the workforce must be lifted, simply be capable of acknowledge that second. and mentally take your self to that place, “mentioned Lillard.” The place, no matter sort of play, seize this second, seize this chance to stand up and have a time when it is wanted most.
“I feel once I acknowledge these conditions it is virtually like on the within, I am excited. I do not wish to be in these conditions, however when these moments come, I actually really feel one thing inside. Okay, that is a kind of instances whenever you bought to need one thing right here. You bought to seek out one thing right here. “
Lillard added, “In my thoughts, I am like, I am about to impose myself for the final 4 and a half minutes. And if that does not work out I will make that call, or I will be the postman. decisive. “
Towards the Thunder, Lillard’s late-game photographs step by step turned extra dramatic and fascinating, hitting three deep on a stable protection.
On Wednesday, Lillard went above and past to assist the Blazers beat the New Orleans Pelicans, ending with 43 factors and 16 assists. He scored 8 factors on 3 of three photographs, with 3 assists within the ultimate 5 minutes.
The Pelicans additionally knew this was coming – they tried to lure Lillard as he crossed the half courtroom. As a substitute, Lillard bypassed protection, drew a crowd, and located Derrick Jones Jr. on a reduce within the basket.
On the following play, he drove to the basket, took a bump from Lonzo Ball, then hit the falling layup, plus the foul, to offer the Blazers the lead for good.
In fact, there was additionally the sport in opposition to the Chicago Bulls on January 30, when Lillard hit two three-runs in 11 seconds, together with a buzzer-beater, to offer the Blazers the victory.
That Lillard and the Blazers do it on the shorthand is much more spectacular. The Blazers are at the moment with out three of their deliberate starters in Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Lillard secondhand CJ McCollum, who’s averaging 25 factors per sport this season.
As Lillard famous, the frequency of these tight moments the place he must be the hero is not a superb factor for the workforce. The Blazers have the fifth-best report within the league, however are solely +20 this season in scoring, thirteenth within the NBA. Successful so many shut matches is not at all times a superb indicator of a workforce’s long-term success.
Nonetheless, Lillard helps the Blazers cringe with out a few of their greatest gamers. Lillard’s teammates will ultimately be capable of relieve his strain and preserve the workforce away from these tight finishes. If and when the Blazers are wholesome, they appear to be a possible contender – a deeper, extra versatile model of the squad that made the Western Convention ultimate in 2018-19.
And if mandatory, Portland is aware of he has the most effective nearer to the NBA.