1:18 AM ET
NEW ORLEANS – Another night, another strong performance from the Portland Trail Blazers keeps Damian Lillard.
Of course, Lillard scored another bucket of seals in that game – his 25th. He scored in the final 20 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime, the most goals in the NBA since the championship in 2012-13. But Wednesday’s 126-124 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans and the Blazers’ recent win aren’t just individual victories for Lillard.
With the absence of CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, the Blazers’ six-game winning streak and eighth win in nine games is a team effort.
I think beauty is what we’re doing now and why it’s so fun and so different from last season. Then I had a game where I scored 48 points in 10 games and then a bubble where I scored 48, 50, 60 points, just great performances, but we didn’t play that well, Lillard said.
We didn’t stop. We didn’t move the bullet. It wasn’t as collective as it is now. … Everyone come and do their job. I’m not just saying this to give people credit. It looks that way because everyone comes and does their job. We will not win these games without CJ, Nurk and Zach as a collective.
Lillard mentioned all the players in the Blazers rotation by name and talked about how much fun the team had this time around. But it certainly doesn’t hurt when your superstar scores 43 points and matches his record with 16 assists.
Although New Orleans scored, Lillard said he saw the Blazers’ defense, ranked 28th in defensive effectiveness after Wednesday’s games, begin to turn around.
I think we’ve been locked in lately, Lillard said. We’re a lot sharper than we used to be. Teams will run, it happens, we get a bounce like all teams. Tonight, I thought we played very hard, physically and intelligently, on defense, and they had 124 points. I just think our emergency is over. We’re communicating. We accept the challenge. Every player is committed to the defense and doing their best.
Portland coach Terry Stotts said he believes the team improved defensively after their loss in the fourth quarter. February in Philadelphia. The Blazers are 13th in their defense in their last eight games.
We don’t like numbers, but we’ve always tried, Lillard added. I said that at the beginning of the season. We were not always on the same wavelength when it came to communication.
Communication was key for Portland on Wednesday, especially when the Pelicans had a chance to tie the game or send it to overtime.
After Lillard and 1 brought the Blazers back within two points with 16.5 seconds left, it was clear the Pelicans would try to put the ball in the hands of Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram.
We watched a couple of their goals and they mixed it up a little bit, like the last game they played in Zion, Stotts said. They knew it would be in one of their hands.
The Pelicans gave the ball to Josh Hart, who passed it to Ingram. Williamson was responsible for setting up a screen for Ingram, but their defenders switched places, leaving Derrick Jones Jr. on Williamson and Robert Covington on Ingram.
Covington rolls Ingram across the road and forces a pass to Lonzo Ball for a deep three. Hart tapped the ball back and it found its way to Ingram in the corner. Ingram picked off the dribbler and threw a contested 14-foot shot to Carmelo Anthony, who didn’t fall and gave Portland the win. The team wins… on defense, which is…
I think it’s a big win for us, but I don’t think it’s the biggest win for us this season. We played well on defense and well on offense. We just had to defend a little bit more, and we did, and I’m glad we did, Jones said. We will continue to learn from this victory and return the favor.
When we began this journey, our goal was to continue on our path, and that is what we are going to do. We just go out there every day and play the right way. We know how to play and we just have to go on the field every day and play the right way. As long as we’re here, the sky is our only limit.
frequently asked questions
Did Damian Lillard dislocate his finger?
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard insisted he would continue to play despite a dislocated finger. Lillard dislocated his finger in the Blazers’ 111-88 defeat to the Lakers on Thursday, leaving their Western Conference first-round series at 1-1.
How much is Damian Lillard worth?
How much is Damian Lillard worth? Damian Lillard’s net worth and salary: Damian Lamonte Ollie Lillard is an American professional basketball player with a net worth of $70 million.
What does the back of Damian Lillard’s T-shirt say?
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will use his platform positively when he plays for the Orlando Bubble of the NBA. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Lillard will have the message How Many More? on the back of his jersey when the league starts again.