There are few things more dangerous in the NBA than a locked-in Damian Lillard, and he showed that again today.
Lillard’s previous career-high was 61 points, a feat he achieved twice in 2020. He’s also had two 60-point games, one in 2019 and one barely a month ago. He decided to top that against the Houston Rockets, making an absurd 13 of 22 three-pointers on the way to 71 points in a blowout victory. He even made a bunch of threes from the kind of range that only one other player, Steph Curry, takes with confidence.
In doing so, Lillard became the eighth player in history to score at least 70 points in an NBA game. The only active players to have hit the mark are Devin Booker, who dropped 70 on the Celtics in 2017, and Donovan Mitchell, who also scored 71 points last month. Mitchell’s mother apparently wasn’t too happy that someone matched her son in the same season.
It’s been quite the season for Lillard, who is trying to will his Portland Trail Blazers back into the play-in picture in a loaded Western Conference. The Blazers’ current 29-31 record is just half a game behind the 10th seeded New Orleans Pelicans and half a game above the Los Angeles Lakers, who are starting to heat up.
Lillard, who has stayed loyal to Portland and is under contract until the end of the 2025-26 season, and has a player option for the 2026-27 season, now continues to show what he’s capable of when healthy. It’s wild to think that he’ll be paid $63 million if he opts in at the age of 36, but he’s certainly shown that he’s worth that kind of money.
It’s unfortunate that Lillard has never had a strong all-around team to play with, even though he’s played with some elite shot makers like CJ McCollum in the past. While some may say that his career would have been better served if he demanded a trade to a contender, there’s something admirable about a man choosing to stay and play with the team that drafted him.
However, if he keeps playing like this, and the Blazers find themselves still stuck in a rut after another season or two, it wouldn’t be surprising if he and the team parted ways amicably so that Portland can rebuild in earnest and Lillard can get the shot at the title that he deserves.
The man’s certainly still having fun playing basketball, and we should all appreciate him while he’s around.