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Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers39; hits playoffrecord 12 3s in

Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers39;  hits playoffrecord 12 3s in

Portland Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard Portland Trail Blazers39; hits playoffrecord 12 3s in

Blazers waste Damian Lillard's record-breaking night, and it's a … Tue, 01 Jun 2021 22:00:00 -0700-Damian Lillard had 55 points and a playoff-record 12 3-pointers in what Blazers coach Terry Stotts called "the best playoff performance I've ever seen," but …

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Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard hits playoff-record 12 3s in 2OT loss

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Lillard's heroics in 55-point game not enough in 2OT loss to Nuggets (2:44)

Damian Lillard drops 55 points and hits a pair of clutch shots, but the Trail Blazers still fall to the Nuggets in an instant classic. (2:44)

12:39 AM ET

In one of the most electrifying postseason performances ever, Damian Lillard had 55 points and an NBA playoff-record 12 3-pointers in the Portland Trail Blazers' double-overtime loss at the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Lillard broke the record of 11 set by the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson in 2016 in Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Lillard played 52 minutes and shot 17-of-24 from the field, including 12-of-17 from 3-point range, but it wasn't enough, as the Nuggets held him off in the second overtime to post a 147-140 victory and take a 3-2 series lead.

“It was the best playoff performance I've ever seen,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He gave it his all.”

As Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, “Damian Lillard was superhuman tonight.”

Lillard, by contrast, brushed aside his performance when he was asked to reflect on it.

“It don't matter. We lost the game,” Lillard said. “At this point, all that matters is we can't lose another game in the series. We go out there and we play to win the game, and we came up short.”

The record-breaking 3 came with 3 minutes, 47 seconds left in double overtime as Lillard bombarded the Nuggets with a series of deep step-back jumpers to keep the Blazers in the game.

He hit one to tie the score with 3.7 seconds remaining in regulation, which came after a review overturned a foul on a 3 that would've given Lillard three free throws.

He hit another in the first overtime with 6.6 seconds left over the 6-foot-10 Michael Porter Jr. to tie the score again and force the second extra frame. That one completed a nine-point comeback in the final two minutes, all led by Lillard.

“The degree of difficulty on which he hit some of those shots is godlike,” CJ McCollum said. “To be able to create space and shoot from so far out contested time after time. It's a shame we wasted one of the all-time performances by not being more supportive for him.”

The Blazers' other four starters all scored in double figures, but down the stretch, Lillard carried the load. He scored or assisted on 37 of the Blazers' final 42 points; and for the game, he scored or assisted on 80 points, tied for the most ever in NBA playoff history. Lillard's 55 points are the third most ever in a playoff loss.

“He did everything that he could,” Blazers forward Robert Covington said.

The mood around the Blazers' postgame was one of immense disappointment. Most of the talk around Lillard's epic performance was redirected to the situation the Blazers now find themselves in — with their backs against the wall.

“I have empathy for Dame. I have empathy for anybody on our team,” Stotts said. “But now's not the time for empathy. Now's the time to regroup and come back and get Game 6.”

There was a moment in the second overtime, with about three minutes to go, when Lillard curled off a high screen moving to his left and pulled for a decently open 3. It clipped off the front of the rim, bouncing off the backboard and into the hands of Porter. But off to the side, Lillard's defender, Austin Rivers, put his hands together, looked to the sky and said, “Thank God.”

Praying seemed to be about the only acceptable defense there was for Lillard.

“I'm learning to become a good poker player,” Malone said. “Because probably five or six years ago when I first got here, I wouldn't have looked so composed.”

Lillard has three career game-tying or go-ahead 3s inside the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, tying Reggie Miller for the most over the past 25 seasons. Lillard is also the first player in the past 25 seasons with multiple game-tying 3s in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of a playoff game. He has two career playoff games with at least 10 3s; the rest of the NBA has one (Thompson).

It was quite the bounce-back outing for Lillard, who scored just 10 points on 1-of-10 shooting in Game 4; but the Blazers blew Denver out behind a strong defensive performance and balanced scoring.

In Game 5, Portland couldn't find answers for likely league MVP Nikola Jokic, who finished with 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, and a stronger bench performance led by Monte Morris (28 points and five assists). The back and forth between Lillard and Jokic featured Lillard scoring or assisting on 22 of Portland's 26 points in clutch time, with Jokic scoring or assisting on 22 of Denver's 31.

“It was a pleasure to be on the court to witness that,” Jokic said of Lillard's performance.

The Nuggets corralled Lillard to a degree in the final minutes, with his last basket coming with 3:47 remaining that gave Portland a two-point lead. After a Jokic layup, Porter followed it with the eventual game winner, a corner 3 set up by Jokic to give the Nuggets a three-point lead. It was a big response from Porter, who scored 26 on 10-of-13 shooting after being challenged by Malone before the game.

“I can't let a team or game plan take me out of a game, like what happened in Game 4,” Porter said. “Even though they're doing a really tough job on me, I've got to continue to help my team any way I can.”

The series returns to Portland on Thursday for Game 6.

“Tough loss, man,” Lillard said. “It's do or die now.”


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Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard hits playoff-record 12 3s in … Tue, 01 Jun 2021 22:00:00 -0700-The Nuggets, somehow, won the game, 147-140, in double overtime, despite Michael Malone hamstringing his team with two of the worst coaching decisions …

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Blazers waste Damian Lillard’s record-breaking night, and it’s a microcosm of a larger failure

site: media | arena: nba | pageType: stories | section: | slug: blazers-waste-damian-lillards-record-breaking-night-and-its-a-microcosm-of-a-larger-failure | sport: basketball | route: article_single.us | 6-keys: media/spln/nba/reg/free/stories

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Jun 2, 2021 at 3:07 am ET6 min read
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I might be caught up in what I just saw, but as of this very moment, I'm declaring the Tuesday night Game 5 battle between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers the craziest NBA basketball game I've ever seen. The Nuggets, somehow, won the game, 147-140, in double overtime, despite Michael Malone hamstringing his team with two of the worst coaching decisions imaginable and Damian Lillard scoring 55 points with an NBA postseason record 12 made 3-pointers. 

Denver leads the series 3-2. 

I have no idea how Portland recovers from this.  

Back to Lillard. This freaking guy. If you were one of the unfortunate souls who chose to watch LeBron James and the Lakers get smoked by the Suns rather than tune into Dame time (assuming you have NBA TV as part of your cable package), may the basketball gods have mercy on your soul. You might never get another chance to witness a performance like this as long as you live. 

In addition to his 55 points, Lillard added 10 assists, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal, making him the first player in history to record at least 50 points, 10 assists and 10 made 3-pointers in a single game, regular season or postseason, per ESPN Stats and Info. 

Also, Lillard had one — one — turnover in 52 minutes with the ball in his hands for damn near every one of them. And it's not like the guy was jacking up shots to break Klay Thompson's previous postseason record of 11 3s; Lillard shot 12 of 17 from deep and 17 of 24 overall. It was pure madness. 

Circling back to Malone's inexcusable coaching decisions, the first one came with under 10 seconds to play in regulation. The Nuggets had a 3-point lead. The Blazers had the ball. I shouldn't have to spell this out, but you foul here every single time. It's quite possibly the dumbest loophole in sports that a team can commit an act designed to be detrimental to its own success as a way of blocking an opposing team's opportunity to tie the game, but that's the rule. You take advantage of it. 

Allowing Lillard, the most clutch player in the universe who regularly makes mind-bending shots look routine, an opportunity to take a potential tying shot is insanity. But Malone did it, and here's what it got him:

Look how long Lillard just stood inside the logo. Michael Porter Jr. had all the time in the world to rush up and foul Lillard. If it comes out that this was Malone's instruction and for some reason Porter just ignored it, then fine, we'll let Malone off the hook and start questioning whether Porter should ever see the floor again. But I doubt it. Malone ordered this nonsense. 

But OK, fine. He got you once. Surely, if Malone were to find himself in this spot again, he would learn his lesson and change his strategy, right? Right? I can't believe I'm even writing this, but sure enough, at the end of the first overtime, the Nuggets once again had a three-point lead with under 10 seconds to play and once again had a chance to foul Lillard. He even did Denver the courtesy of stepping inside the 3-point line with his back turned, meaning even if he were to spring into a quick shot, the foul would still only net two free throws. Nope. They let him do it again …

— Sideline Sports (@sportsideline) June 2, 2021

That the Blazers didn't win this game is a national shame, but we would be remiss to ignore how awesome the Nuggets played. Nikola Jokic, with 38 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in 46 minutes, was masterful, doing his best to call Lillard nearly every time he upped the ante.

Monte Morris? Good god. This man is a treasure to have coming off the bench. He finished with 28 points, five assists and his customary zero turnovers. He hit monster shots. So did Porter, who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting from the field. And Austin Rivers, who chipped in 18 and on 4 of 4 from 3. And these weren't a bunch of first-quarter 3s. These were game-on-the-line 3s with the tension ready to snap. 

Still, if you're the Blazers, and Lillard plays like that, you have to win that game. There are fingers to point. C.J. McCollum was bad with 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting, including 2 of 8 from 3, to go with a gut-punch turnover with the Blazers down three and 10 seconds to play in overtime. (Lillard passed it to McCollum, who stepped out of bounds, and I'll forever be trying to figure out why Lillard gave the ball up considering what he had done in this game). 

Robert Covington smoked not one, but two point-blank shots by trying to dunk the ball through the ground rather than making sure he got the bucket(s). Jusuf Nurkic fouled out for the third time in the series. With the game on the line, Portland has Enes Kanter and Carmelo Anthony trying to guard Jokic. 

They did the best they could. It was smart not to double Jokic most of the night, and for most of this series, and force him to beat you as a scorer rather than allowing him to get the whole train rolling by slicing Portland up with passes … but when it comes down to it, those are mismatches that illuminate how short Portland GM Neil Olshey has fallen in terms of putting a championship team around Lillard, who scored 17 points over the two overtimes on 6-of-8 shooting while his teammates scored a combined 2 points on 1-of-14 shooting. 

The collective talent just isn't there. The Blazers are good, but not great, and they haven't take enough risks — if any at all — to honestly pursue the latter. Portland is a tough place to draw players, trades aren't easy, and there were a lot of cap restraints for a lot of years following the 2016 offseason debacle (Olshey's doing). But this is a results business. Lillard is one of the best players on the planet, and every year he's asked to work miracles to win first-round series; sometimes just to make the playoffs. You don't have to win a championship to be great, but if you're as great as Lillard, you at least deserve a legitimate shot, especially in the post-Warriors era. 

Instead, Lillard now resides in the annals of dubious honors as the only player in history to put up at least 55 points and 10 assists in a loss, regular season or playoffs. Think about that. It had never happened. Until now. As I said at the top, I have zero idea how the Blazers bounce back from this for Game 6 on Thursday. If they win that game, it will be one of the most resilient wins ever. I'm not going to rule it out. I don't rule anything out with Lillard. For obvious reasons. But for now, this one stings if you're a Blazers fan. If you're a Nuggets fan, you're euphoric. If you're Malone, you're thankful, because you got away with one. Or two, actually. 

If you're just an NBA fan, man, you just witnessed a true classic. There's just no other way to say it. That game, for so many reasons, was un-freaking-believable.

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Jun 2, 2021 at 3:07 am ET6 min read
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I might be caught up in what I just saw, but as of this very moment, I'm declaring the Tuesday night Game 5 battle between the Nuggets and Trail Blazers the craziest NBA basketball game I've ever seen. The Nuggets, somehow, won the game, 147-140, in double overtime, despite Michael Malone hamstringing his team with two of the worst coaching decisions imaginable and Damian Lillard scoring 55 points with an NBA postseason record 12 made 3-pointers. 

Denver leads the series 3-2. 

I have no idea how Portland recovers from this.  

Back to Lillard. This freaking guy. If you were one of the unfortunate souls who chose to watch LeBron James and the Lakers get smoked by the Suns rather than tune into Dame time (assuming you have NBA TV as part of your cable package), may the basketball gods have mercy on your soul. You might never get another chance to witness a performance like this as long as you live. 

In addition to his 55 points, Lillard added 10 assists, six rebounds, three blocks and a steal, making him the first player in history to record at least 50 points, 10 assists and 10 made 3-pointers in a single game, regular season or postseason, per ESPN Stats and Info. 

Also, Lillard had one — one — turnover in 52 minutes with the ball in his hands for damn near every one of them. And it's not like the guy was jacking up shots to break Klay Thompson's previous postseason record of 11 3s; Lillard shot 12 of 17 from deep and 17 of 24 overall. It was pure madness. 

Circling back to Malone's inexcusable coaching decisions, the first one came with under 10 seconds to play in regulation. The Nuggets had a 3-point lead. The Blazers had the ball. I shouldn't have to spell this out, but you foul here every single time. It's quite possibly the dumbest loophole in sports that a team can commit an act designed to be detrimental to its own success as a way of blocking an opposing team's opportunity to tie the game, but that's the rule. You take advantage of it. 

Allowing Lillard, the most clutch player in the universe who regularly makes mind-bending shots look routine, an opportunity to take a potential tying shot is insanity. But Malone did it, and here's what it got him:

Look how long Lillard just stood inside the logo. Michael Porter Jr. had all the time in the world to rush up and foul Lillard. If it comes out that this was Malone's instruction and for some reason Porter just ignored it, then fine, we'll let Malone off the hook and start questioning whether Porter should ever see the floor again. But I doubt it. Malone ordered this nonsense. 

But OK, fine. He got you once. Surely, if Malone were to find himself in this spot again, he would learn his lesson and change his strategy, right? Right? I can't believe I'm even writing this, but sure enough, at the end of the first overtime, the Nuggets once again had a three-point lead with under 10 seconds to play and once again had a chance to foul Lillard. He even did Denver the courtesy of stepping inside the 3-point line with his back turned, meaning even if he were to spring into a quick shot, the foul would still only net two free throws. Nope. They let him do it again …

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– June 2, 2021
Portland Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Trail Blazers

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