It doesn’t seem to matter what anybody tries to do in order to stop Damian Lillard right now, it’s not working. Double-teams, triple-teams, small guys, big guys -- whatever.
Lillard went for 33 points Sunday night along with eight assists, four rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot as his Trail Blazers won their seventh out of their last 10 games, a 115-109 triumph over Miami.
During those 10 games, Lillard has scored more than 60 points once, 50 or more points twice, 40 or more points six times and 30 or more points eight times.
He has scored 30 or more in 25 games this season, fourth most in the NBA.
“We did about as good of a job as you can on Lillard,” Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We got the ball out of his hands, which is very hard to do, and then it ended up in Gary Trent’s hards and he made those shots.”
Trent is becoming a big (and sometimes only) Portland weapon off the bench. He hit five of his seven three-pointers and scored 22 points. The other three Trail Blazer players who came on in a reserve role did not score at all.
The 6-2, 195-pound Lillard found himself defended by 6-6, 235-pound Jae Crowder and 6-6, 215-pound Andre Iguodala at times Sunday and they weren’t gentle with him.
But lately, goaltending seems to be the only way to deny Lillard.
Are bigger, stronger defenders who can bump him around more becoming a common practice?
“I think it’s been that way for a while now,” Lillard said. “It’s more obvious on a team like that because they just look bigger and they’ve got so many like-sized guys, it stands out more.
“But I think it’s pretty much been that way for a while now. Small, tall, strong -- I’m a scorer I know how to play, so I’m going to figure out a way to do what I need to do.”
Lillard’s minutes have grown as his scoring has gone up and he’s playing about 39 minutes a game over his last 10. Is that wearing on him?
“I feel good,” he said.
Coach Terry Stotts talked about his team’s toughness -- “both mental and physical” -- and said “I’m proud of our team right now.”
And he’s running out of superlatives for Lillard.
“Dame’s been playing great,” Stotts said. “He does whatever it takes. It’s obvious to everyone what a competitor he is and how important winning and making the playoffs is, and he’s doing whatever it takes.”