One man isn't supposed to be able to win you a basketball game all by himself. Damian Lillard didn't quite do that Monday night in Moda Center -- but that's about as close as you will ever come to seeing someone do it.
It was 61-derful.
The Trail Blazers took a 129-124 victory away from the Golden State Warriors, thanks to Lillard's 61 points, built on 11 three-point field goals in 20 attempts. The other eight Trail Blazers who played combined for 68 points on 3-24 shooting from three-point range. It was the most points scored by an NBA player this season, a franchise record (breaking his own mark of 60 set earlier this season) and he became only the sixth player in league history to record multiple 60-point games. And oh yes, he also tied a franchise record by going 16-16 from the foul line.
"You kind of run out of adjectives for Damian and his performance," Coach Terry Stotts said. "The way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, timeouts, halftime. His leadership was great and like I said, you run out of adjectives. He's an amazing player."
Lillard did not minimize the importance of this game for his 19-26 team -- or the magnitude of his performance.
"It's one of the best of my career... one of my better performances in a game we needed to win," he said, "I think that's just what it is. We needed a win tonight. A great performance. I'm excited about it. I'm happy about it, but I wish it counted for three wins instead of one."
Lillard hit a 26-foot step-back three pointer with 15.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. He had scored 12 points in the period.
Then in overtime, after Portland fell behind by six points, he tied it with 58.3 seconds to play with a 27-foot pull-up jumper, then fed Gary Trent for a layup with 34.8 to go that pushed his team into a two-point lead. Alec Burks responded with a three that jumped the Warriors back into the lead with 32.7 left in the extra session but Lillard's two free throws seven seconds later helped Portland regain the lead.
Then, after Hassan Whiteside nailed two clutch foul shots with 8.5 seconds left, Lillard finished off his night with two more free tosses that got him to 61 points.
And he admitted later that he knew what his point total was when he went to the line.
"Yeah, I knew," he said. "I knew I had 59 after it was eight seconds left so I was like, it's probably going to sit at 59. Then the shot went up, I got the rebound, the guy bumped me and I was like, I'm going to fall down. They;re going to have to blow the whistle and I;m getting those two free throws."
He deserved them. It was his night.
He also deserved his first career triple-double. He ended with 10 rebounds and seven assists, but could have had four or five more assists had his teammates been able to knock down their open three-point shots.
"He's a great player," Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said. "He's a hell of a player. An all-star. He's hit some big shots in his career, so it didn't surprise me ..."