Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard calls out local reporter for one awful hot take

Trail Blazers

Some like it hot... Others, they skip the hot and just dive headfirst into scalding with no care for the outcome. 

We saw the result on Wednesday.

After willing his team to another huge 20-point comeback victory, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard took to the podium and faced the media. 

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The first question of the night came from Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. He simply asked what the comeback said about the team. 

"I think it says a lot about the character of our team and what we're becoming, " said Lillard before continuing to give a deeper answer. 

Lillard put the team on his back to the tune of 40 points and 13 assists, becoming the first player in NBA history to record that statline without committing a single turnover. 

Lillard's performance was incredible, and it may have had a little outside influence. 

Before moving on to the next question, Lillard called out Fentress for a take he had on Twitter that rubbed Lillard the wrong way.

I also saw your Tweets when you was saying that there was a backcourt better than me and CJ, too...You said it was the Wizard's backcourt.

Damian Lillard

The Tweets in reference popped up on January 7th when fans were talking on the social network about how Lillard and McCollum were the best backcourt in the NBA.

Fentress chimed in, "Westbrook and Beal?"

Fentress played the Floor is Lava, but forgot the point was to avoid the lava, not touch it.

When pressed by Lillard, Fentress explained he was just throwing out options. "I raised it as an option because someone said there was a no contest, so I said what about Beal and Westbrook?"


The lie detector has determined that was a lie. 

He wasn't throwing out options, he was giving his honest opinion that the Wizards had a better backcourt. His follow up Tweets to fans that called him out prove that. 

Having that opinion is certainly fine but for the record, there is only one backcourt that is better than Dame and CJ, and that is Steph Curry and a healthy Klay Thompson. That pair has the championships and multiple playoff victories over the Blazers to prove it. Beal and Westbrook, not so much. 

Bradley Beal has been on a tear this season. There is no doubting how great he is at this point. He currently leads the NBA in scoring at 34.9 points per game, including a 60 point outburst against the 76ers. 

60 points is incredible, but let's remind Fentress that Lillard did that three times last season. 

As for McCollum, he is also having a career year and it currently the league's second-leading scorer at 28.1 per game. But individual scoring numbers don't paint a true picture. When you compare the two duos using averages, they are nearly identical. 

Westbrook + Beal per game: 67.4 points, 22.3 rebounds, 16.3 assists, 8.9 turnovers, 3.9 steals. 

Dame + CJ per game: 67.6 points, 22.2 rebounds, 14.0 assists, 5.8 turnovers, 4.7 steals. 

They are hard to tell apart, really. Where the glaring difference is in the advanced stats, and Portland's combo shines. 

Westbrook + Beal: Off Rtg: 111.8, Def Rtg: 112.4

Dame + CJ: Off Rtg: 120.4, Def. Rtg: 111.2

That is a net rating of -0.5 vs 9.2. In other words, the Wizards are outscored when Westbrook and Beal are on the floor. Want more evidence? 

The Wizards are 1-7 when Russ plays, 2-1 when he doesn't, and they have a -2.7 net rating in minutes he is on the floor. 

Bradley Beal is one of the best shooting guards in the Eastern Conference. Probably the best had James Harden not been traded to the Nets on Wednesday. 

McCollum, he is one of the best shooting guards in the stacked West, especially now that he is having the best year of his career. 

Bradley Beal is arguably better than CJ McCollum, but the gap is small and McCollum is closing ground this season. 

The big difference is between Russ and Dame. Sure, there is no doubt that Westbrook is an athletic freak and a triple-double machine, but it doesn't always translate wins on the court. Just look at Hassan Whiteside last season with Portland. Just because he led the league in blocked shots didn't mean the team's defense was better when he was on the floor. It was worse. 

The gap between Lillard and Westbrook, however, is less a gap and more a canyon. Westbrook isn't even the best point guard in his conference, while Dame is neck and neck in a race with Curry (a race Curry is leading and has been for a while) to be crowned the best point guard in the entire league.


Fentress said if the two duos were switched people would be up in arms if he said Dame and CJ in Washington are better than Russ and Beal in Portland...

No, they wouldn't, because he would be telling the truth. Heck, the Russ - Beal duo isn't even as good as the Wall - Beal duo it replaced.

Had Russ landed in Washington five years ago, maybe the argument would hold weight, but in 2020-2021 Westbrook is having one of the worst years of his career. Russ is shooting a career-worst 37.8% from the field and is averaging just 19.3 points per game, the third-worst of his career. All despite playing 37.1 minutes per game, the most in his career. 

Russ is struggling to find his footing while Dame, CJ, and Beal are putting up All-Star campaigns. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Westbrook. At times he can be nearly unguardable and his game, no matter how chaotic, is always fun to watch. But if were are talking best backcourt duos right now, I'm taking Dame and CJ every single time. 

Fentress on the other hand, he is rolling with Wizards duo and that's fine. But he did something the rest of the NBA has learned not to do over the years - He poked the bear. 

CJ McCollum noticed what happened, too. 

As Keegan-Michael Key would say, "You done messed up A-a-ron."