“Sixty! Sixty! Sixty!” -- That was the chant coming from Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside inside the locker room after the Trail Blazers beat the Warriors in overtime, 129-124.
It was Damian Lillard’s night, leading the Blazers to a victory after scoring a franchise-record 61 points.
Everything was going right for Lillard, who said it was “just one of those days.”
After the game, Whiteside was quick to comment on Lillard’s stellar performance.
“It’s amazing. Dame played amazing. I just told him to keep shooting, even when you miss, just keep shooting, I’m going to keep trying to get you open with these screens so keep shooting,” Whiteside said.
But down the stretch, Hassan Whiteside also stepped up, too.
He did it from the line.
The Blazers held a one point lead with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game when Alec Burks fouled Whiteside.
It's pretty well-known that NBA guards around the league often say they want that chance to win a game at the free throw line. And bigs have the reputation of not being able to convert.
Yet, on Monday night, it was this big man that had ice in his veins.
Whiteside nailed both free throws, making the score 127-124 -- Trail Blazers.
That was a huge moment for the big fella, especially since he put so much work in on his free throw shooting over the summer.
I wanted those free throws. I think these last two games have been my worst free throw shooting games. I think last game I missed three free throws which is the most free throws I missed all season. Dame was just telling me to take my time and knock them down. I’ve been waiting for it and I knocked them down. – Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside after Monday's win
Whiteside was cool, calm, and collected at the charity stripe; however, that wasn’t the case in the final seconds of the third quarter. Portland was down 90-84 with 16.1 seconds remaining in the quarter when Whiteside was hit with a technical foul.
This was the one time that the 7-footer didn’t listen to his team captain.
The good thing about him is he actually listens. Tonight he actually did the opposite. I tried to calm him down and he was still like elbowing dudes, got a tech. And, I went up to him again and I was like – ‘I just said keep your cool, like we don’t need a tech right now and you did it.’ He was like – ‘no, I got you,’ and he shook my hand. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard said postgame
Of Monday's win, people will definitely remember Lillard’s overall performance. They might also remember Whiteside knocking down two clutch free throws as well as getting kneed where the sun don't shine.
Whiteside joked postgame he was still in pain and he struggling to do his interview.
It’s probably fair to say that Whiteside took one for the team when Eric Paschall kneed him right below the belt with 39.5 seconds remaining in overtime.
Whiteside was lying down on the baseline for a couple of minutes. In the moment, it looked scary. Then, the replay explained Whiteside just needed a minute.
With Whiteside challenging Paschall on that play and coming up with the block, it, in turn, led to the go-ahead Gary Trent Jr. lay-up that put the Blazers up 123-121.
That entire sequence was just seconds before Whiteside’s two free throws which helped the Blazers put the Warriors away.
Lillard couldn’t help but give credit to his big man.
[He] come up with a big verticality block that lead to a Gary Trent lay-up, then he get a big rebound, he get fouled, then he made two big free throws and that was the stretch that won us the game, so I think that says everything. – Damian Lillard on Hassan Whiteside
Whiteside finished the game with 17 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocks.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts reiterated that it was Lillard’s night, but Whiteside had some key contributions.
“He made some good plays, big plays,” Stotts said. “He’s out there with Dame a lot, his screen setting, his reaction on defense, his rebounding, obviously, everybody who was on the court had something to do with the game, obviously, Dame was the Man of the Hour, but Hassan really made a difference when he was in.”
The man of the hour also said he wasn’t going to lose to this extremely short-handed Warriors team.
With the win, Portland goes to .500 at home with a 10-10 record.
It's good that on a night where Lillard dropped 61, the Blazers got the win. Otherwise, the entire team, not just Whiteside, would have felt like they all got kneed below the belt.