NBA

Damian Lillard firing on all cylinders as Portland Trail Blazers put together late-season surge

Jay Asser 15:55 06/03/2018
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Damian Lillard takes it to the basket against the Los Angeles Lakers.

While the Portland Trazil Blazers‘ climb up the Western Conference standings has gone somewhat under the radar, there’s nothing quiet about what Damian Lillard is doing.

The All-Star guard has been on fire and taken his play to another level over the past month, propelling the Trail Blazers to a seven-game winning streak and nine victories in their last 10 matches.

Over that span, Lillard has put together games in which he’s scored 50, 44 and 40 points, but his most recent performance may have been his most impressive yet.

Facing an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, Lillard scored 15 straight – including four consecutive 3-pointers in less than two minutes – to lead the Trail Blazers to a 108-103 victory.

Overall, he scored 19 of his 39 points in the final period to maintain Portland’s sparkling run of form.

“It will probably be a while before I miss, that is what I am [thinking],” said Lillard. “Usually when I get on the road, I feel like every shot is going in. There have been times when it came down to a big shot, where I have been missing; but I think just knowing that I have taken these shots so many times, not only in games but in workouts, that I have been preparing myself.

“I expect things for myself. Regardless of how the game is going, I am always going to feel like when the time comes, I can make it happen.”

Since February 8, Lillard is averaging 33.5 points per game – second in the league behind Anthony Davis’ 34.7 – on shooting percentages of 46.3 from the field and 38.0 from long range.

His surge has pushed the Trail Blazers all the way to third in the West behind only Houston and Golden State. Though only two games in the loss column separate them from the Los Angeles Clippers in ninth, Portland have proven their playoff credentials.

If Lillard can sustain his play down the stretch, the Trail Blazers will be in a favourable position to not just reach the post-season, but hold home-court advantage in the opening round.

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