Damian Lillard is doing a lot of things that nobody else has ever done in a Trail Blazer uniform in the 50 years the franchise has been in existence.
Player of the Week? Well, yes… they ought to name the award for him after the last three games he’s had. But just consider a few of these milestones:
He scored 50 points Sunday night against the Indiana Pacers, along with gathering six rebounds and dishing out 13 assists. He made 14 of his 23 shots from the floor -- only the fifth time in NBA history a player has scored 50 or more points on 23 or fewer field-goal attempts.
He’s the first player in franchise history to score 40-plus points in three straight games, having put together 60, 47 and 50-point efforts.
He’s the first player in franchise history to score 50-plus points three times in one season.
He has scored 30 or more points in five straight games, matching the franchise record he shares with Geoff Petrie.
The Trail Blazers posted a 139-129 win over the Pacers, shooting 57.1 percent from three-point range. It was a night when Portland’s ball movement was as good as it’s been all season.
“For sure, we were talking about that on the bench,” said Hassan Whiteside, who posted a 21-point, 14-rebound night. “We were moving.
“Coach really put an emphasis on it at practice yesterday. He did a drill where we couldn’t dribble more than two times, so we were forced to pass.”
And pass they did -- to the tune of 27 assists. And the simple fact that the team was able to practice was a plus. The Blazers have had two days off after each of the last two games, giving them a day of rest and a day of practice for the first time since Christmas.
“Whenever you get a chance to be by yourself and collect, rather than practicing or just being home, that makes a difference,” said CJ McCollum, who hammered home 6 of his 9 three-point field goals and scored 28 points. “We’ve been traveling a lot and it’s good to get some relaxation and peace.”
It appears that the addition of Trevor Ariza, at least so far, has given the guards a bit more space on offense and been a boost to the defense and rebounding.
“He’s a smart guy -- a veteran guy with 16 years in the league,” McCollum said. “He understands the game and knows his role. He’s going to knock down shots and he’s going to be aggressive when he needs to.
“And he’s going to defend every possession.”
Lillard’s three-game scoring run has been sensational. He’s made 27 of his 47 three-point shots, 47 of his 88 shots overall, 37 of 39 free throws and averaged 8.1 assists per game.
What’s he doing during that time?
“I just try to lock in to all the details of how I can be my best -- getting rest, massages, cold tub, staying off my feet, watching a little bit more film and just looking into ways I could be effective, more consistently.
“Also, just a mentality. Just trying to go out there, make sure I do my job to give our team the best chance to win games, especially in the situation we’re in, where we’ve got to start pulling more of these games out.
“I think a lot of these playoff teams coming up on our schedule, against good teams -- the more we can pull these games out, our confidence will keep picking up and going into the games where it’s teams that are middle of the pack like us, fighting for the playoff spots like us, we’ll go into those games feeling like we should win them, playing we should win them.”
And if Lillard keeps playing the way he has in the last three games, anything is possible.