“One more rebound, one more rebound!”
That chant was heard echoing from Trail Blazers fans in the 300 levels at Moda Center at the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter Wednesday night.
Blazers fans were encouraging their All-Star point guard to complete something he had yet to accomplish: A triple-double.
He had yet to do until Wednesday night.
Following the Blazers 125-112 victory over the Rockets, Carmelo Anthony strolled past Damian Lillard’s locker with a big smile on his face postgame while yelling, "DAME!!"
Portland not only handled Houston, but both Lillard and Anthony reached personal milestones.
That is not a typo.
Wednesday marked Lillard’s first triple-double in 594 games played.
He finished with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Fans and new teammates alike both shared their confusion that Lillard had never reached this milestone before.
Lillard felt the same.
It’s about time. It took eight years.
I think it’s been plenty of times where I could have just kind of hunted it – I’ve been two rebounds or one assist away, but it’s just something about I never wanted to go out there and just chase it. Just growing up, my dad would just always be on my case about playing the game the right way and letting it play out how it’s supposed to play out. So that’s kind of been my approach with the triple doubles and tonight, I was close but a lot of times where I was like—‘alright, tonight I can’t walk off the court stuck at nine with all this time. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard
The Blazers team captain snagged his ninth rebound with 4:38 remaining in the game.
But, it wasn’t until there was just 57.3 seconds left on the clock, when Lillard missed a tip shot to snag and offensive rebound to record that elusive 10th board.
And then the standing ovation occurred.
That tip-in attempt had his teammates smiling after the game, though.
“I told him please go get the rebound, go get it,” Melo said with a big grin. “This time, tell me to get out of the way.”
CJ McCollum joked, “I didn’t even know. I was wondering why he jumped so high for that rebound.”
And, just like that it happened.
“Everybody was like, ‘Get one rebound, get one rebound.’ Lillard said. “So I was like, ‘Imma crash the offensive glass, get in position to defensive rebound’ and the last shot came off and I just jumped first and I got my hand on it and I tried to tip it in, boom.”
Lillard has been within reach of this impressive feat 10 times in his career. He was either two rebounds or one assist shy of grasping that almighty accomplishment.
At the end of the third quarter Wednesday night, the triple-double watch started.
Lillard had 30 points, eight assists, and 7 rebounds through three quarters.
Wednesday’s achievement meant more to Lillard because it came in a win against a good team.
Not because it was against Russell Westbrook.
But man, isn’t that extremely storybook for Lillard to notch his first triple-double against Westbrook?
Yeah, it totally is; there’s no denying that.
“I was just playing the game. I was just making the plays that I saw, making the right passes and guys made shots,” Lillard said.
So what about it coming against Westbrook? Is there anything extra to it because of that?
“I mean, not really,” Lillard said with an inexpressive face. “It was my first career triple double, it didn’t really matter who it was against. I’m just happy that it came in a win like you said, and just that it was a performance where it was needed. It wasn’t like we just came out here and blew a team out and I just benefited from it by just getting a stat line. I think it was a kind of team effort where it was a real game and it led to a win too.”
Lillard also set a new franchise record scoring 30+ points for the sixth straight game.
Plus, he really surprised his new teammates.
Trevor Ariza, who is already fitting in nicely after playing in just three games with the Blazers, was in disbelief that Lillard hadn’t recorded a triple-double before Wednesday night.
But, he was definitely happy for his new point guard.
“Yeah, I looked up and saw that he needed one rebound and it was exciting. I didn’t know it was his first one, I just thought it was another one he was going to rack up. It’s great, we had two historical nights, Melo moved up (on the scoring list), Dame got his first triple double, it’s exciting,” Ariza said.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned how he is still surprised that this was Lillard’s first triple-double as well.
“I’m happy for him,” Stotts said. “He’s been playing great, I’m glad they gave him that last tip as a rebound. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t had one before now. He plays an all-around game, but to get your first triple-double, on national TV against a really good team, it’s pretty cool.”
Not only is it storybook that this happened on a night against Westbrook, but it comes on the heels of Lillard earning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging over 52 points per game.
“He’s been locked in, playing at an elite level, this is his best basketball he’s played in his career. We needed every basket, every assist, and every rebound,” McCollum said.
The Lillard takeover continues.