We’re running out of ways to explain just how extremely gifted Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is.
After dropping 31 points one night earlier to lead Portland over Oklahoma City 115-104, the Trail Blazers superstar pulled a 40-point plus night out of his pocket on Wednesday.
Dame served up another MVP-like performance with 43 points, 16 assists and seven three-pointers to give the Trail Blazers the 126-124 victory over the Zion-led Pelicans, and the team’s sixth-straight win.
The night was a historical one as well. Lillard became the first Trail Blazer to record a 40-point, 15-assist game since legend Clyde Drexler in 1986.
After the win over New Orleans, Lillard mentioned the players that have come before him including legends like Drexler and Bill Walton. He went on to explain why he doesn't feel another Trail Blazer in franchise history has ever had an impact on the team in the way he has.
"I’ve put my stamp on every season that I’ve been here," Lillard explained. "I continued to improve, I’ve continued to take more and more pride in putting this uniform on and I don’t think a player before me had the same pride in putting this uniform on than I have.
"Guys that would be in that conversation I feel like they were here and they had success and they had big moments, you know Bill Walton won an MVP and a championship, Clyde went to the Finals twice and if it wasn’t for Michael Jordan, probably would have done the same and had a championship, but I don’t think being here meant the same to them."
He also believes he's on pace to become the greatest Trail Blazer of all time.
"I think the pride that I have in it, and how much I want to bring a championship to this city is at the top," Lillard said. "For me, I just think I just got to continue to improve, continue to win games, and eventually win a championship. I think that if I win a championship, it’s a wrap. I think if we win a championship, it’s a wrap...
The Blazers, who are now fourth in the Western Conference at 18-10, continue to put the rest of the league on notice with many of their key players sidelined. Portland was without Harry Giles (left calf strain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve been our best when we were the underdog, when we were up against it,” Lillard said in his walk-off interview with Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam. “When adversity hits, that’s when we perform our best, that’s when we come together. … This moment that we’re having without Nurk, CJ and Zach and Harry being banged up, Hoodie being banged up, we just coming together.
Lillard is playing at an MVP level and the rest of us, including his teammates, are here to enjoy it.