Hello, Blazer fans, Antonio here. No way to mince words here. Let’s get into it.
I watched the game with friends, and as we crowded around the TV, I watched the most inhuman game I’ve ever seen an NBA player play. I watched 17 straight points and five threes. I saw two clutch shots to force overtime. I saw Damian Lillard, the greatest player in Portland Trail Blazer history walk away from Ball Arena in Denver with 55 points. And a defeated look on his face.
Let’s take a closer look.
This Man is Unreal…
Damian Lillard scored the third-most points in NBA playoff history on Tuesday night and made sure to do it stunningly. The Blazers, who fell down 22 early on against the Nuggets, rallied to within three at halftime thanks to 18 first-half points from Lillard. In the second half, it was no different.
Lillard hit, not one, but two tough stepbacks over Nugget defenders to tie the game. Both shots were with less than 10 seconds left in the period. Lillard also scored nine straight points after trailing by eight with one minute remaining. He did it all.
Dame walked away with 55 on 17-24 shooting, 12-17 from deep, 10 assists, six rebounds, and even three blocks. That was the positive part, the electric part, the cheering part. So what was the reason the Blazers lost?
…But Had No Help
I’m usually not the type of guy to claim “he had no help” is a valid excuse. But Dame wasn’t allowed a break in crunch time. Enes Kanter scored the first points of overtime for Portland. After that, only Lillard scored. Dame finished 6-8 from the field with 17 points in the overtime periods, while every other Blazer finished 1-14 with two points.
CJ McCollum has yet to have a signature great game this series, and his turnover with seconds left in the game cemented Portland’s loss. Robert Covington missed two dunks that would have kept the Blazers in contention. The Blazers on the court disappointed, but the Blazer off the court might have made a bigger impact.
Jusuf Nurkic fouled out of the game with four minutes left in the fourth quarter thanks to a foul contesting an Aaron Gordon dunk. This is the third game that Nurkic has fouled out of. Every time he has fouled out, Portland has lost. Defensive ratings crater when Kanter comes into the game for him, and the offense screeches to a halt when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson steps in. Nurk needs to know his worth.
All year, I’ve talked about how this year’s roster has the best supporting cast for Lillard. On Tuesday night, they fell flat. While disappointed, I have confidence that Dame, CJ, Norm, Nurk, RoCo, and Melo will all bring their A-game.
The NBA World Stood Still
For all the negatives I just presented, Tuesday’s game against Denver will go down as one of the all-time classics. And everywhere appreciated it.
These tweets show how for one hour on a Tuesday night in June, Damian Lillard made everyone gasp at once. He even made his opponents thank the heavens he missed.
Next Up: Game 6 in Moda on Thursday night. A loss for Portland and they’re eliminated.
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