Lillard has 44 points as Splash Brothers combine for 6 for 17 shooting from three-point line.
Which will make you feel better? Having scored 50 points but failed to get the big W or, scored just enough to help your team win against an elite team?
Of course, the latter one is better, right? Especially if it comes at the expense of the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors.
In a game when the trio of stars of the Warriors have a mixture of experiences with one exploding for 50 points while the other two struggled from the three-point line, the Portland Trail Blazers, time and again, leaned on Damian Lillard as the Blazers took off right in the first quarter, en route to a 123-117 victory against the Golden State Warriors. Lillard acknowledged right after the game that beating the Warriors heading into the All-Star break will give the Blazers the confidence as well as the momentum going into the second half of the season which they can use to snatch a top-4 finish which will give them a homecourt advantage during the first round of the playoffs. Right now, the Blazers are sitting in 6th place in the Western Conference with a 32-26 record- just half a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and, two and a half games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What worked well for the Blazers? Below are the magic numbers:
Another 40+ Point Game Damian. Another Portland Win
Sure, Kevin Durant exploded for 50 points on 17 for 27 field goal shooting including 6 for 14 from the three-point line but that didn't matter as Damian Lillard's 44 points were just enough for the Blazers to claim their 4th win in their last 10 games. He shot 14 for 25 from the field but only made 4 of his 11 attempts from downtown. He made it up by making all 12 of his attempts from the free throw line. He added 8 assists and 2 steals while playing for 40 minutes. Can you believe that this guy was ALMOST snubbed in the All-Star Game?
One Star cannot save 'em all
This has been said many times. One dominant player cannot carry an entire team for 82 games. And that was one of the things that doomed the Warriors against the Blazers. Only Kevin Durant had a respectable night for the Warriors but the rest of the team? Both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson had 17 points each but Curry went 3 for 10 from the three-point line while Thompson only made 3 of his 7 attempts from deep.
During the game, Steve Kerr came up with an explanation that the Warriors have already begun their All-Star break. Given the fact that they allowed the Blazers to score 40 points in the first quarter alone, Kerr's words made sense.
While GSW fans will say that this is only one game and that they still have the second-best record in the Western Conference, teams who beat the Warriors like how the Blazers just did will send a message to the rest of the NBA that yes, the Golden State Warriors are beatable now than they were when they won 72 games but blew a 3-1 lead in the Finals.
In short, beating the Warriors is not entirely impossible.