The world watched in absolute awe as Damian Lillard strung together a playoff performance for the ages.
The Trail Blazers star poured on 55 points while shooting 17-of-24 from the field, including an NBA playoff record 12 threes from distance as Portland overcame a 22-point deficit to force not one, but two overtimes in Game 5.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts described it as the “best playoff performance he’s ever seen.” Nets star Kevin Durant called it a “spiritual performance." And Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes stated the facts: "Damian Lillard is crazy man.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone, too, was singing Lillard’s praises post-game.
“Damian Lillard was superhuman tonight,” he said.
With the game on the line, the six-time NBA All-Star wouldn’t stop shooting. Lillard hit back-to-back threes in the final minute of overtime to close the Nuggets lead to 2 with 22 seconds to play. Dame Time struck again as Lillard nailed a three-pointer with three seconds remaining to force a second overtime.
But despite Lillard’s 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting in overtime, it wasn't enough as the Nuggets held him off to secure a 147-140 victory and take a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
Michael Porter Jr. called the experience of going toe-to-toe with Lillard a “growing moment.”
“That’s where I want to be,” Porter said. “I want to be one of those players people talkin’ about. Just like you were talking about Damian Lillard. Those are growing moments, but we’re all in the NBA. It’s about competing now. Obviously, I grew up watching a lot of these dudes I’m playing against play, so I have tremendous respect for all these guys.”
With Lillard’s gutsy performance, he became the first player in NBA history with 55+ points and 10 assists in a playoff game. But containing a one-man show takes a balanced effort from the Nuggets, as Monte Morris noted.
In response to a post via Complex, Austin Rivers said Lillard wasn’t missing for “sh*t,” calling the Blazers superstar "as tough as they come."
The Nuggets survived Lillard’s barrage to take Game 5, but it will take more than the clock striking Dame Time for Portland to get revenge on Thursday in Game 6 as the series shifts back to Rip City. It's win or go home for the Blazers as they look to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
"It don't matter, we lost the game,” Lillard said. “At this point, all that matters is we can't lose another game in this series.”