Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was noticeably frustrated with a Scott Foster led officiating crew Sunday night against the Dallas Mavericks— and he had every right to be.
But Lillard’s frustrations were two-fold: Why he was somehow getting whistled for personal fouls and why he couldn’t buy a call to save his life.
By the end of the first quarter, Lillard had two personal fouls. And as he drove to the basket throughout the second quarter, he drew plenty of contact that seemed to warrant a whistle— and yet officials swallowed it.
Want to know why he was mad?
Presenting Exhibit A:
Lillard’s frustrations boiled over at the end of the second quarter when the Trail Blazers had yet to shoot a free throw the entire half!
He got a technical foul because of it.
Things didn’t get better for Lillard, either.
If you thought officials might reflect on their first half transgressions and call the game differently after halftime — well you’d be wrong.
By the 9:15 mark in the 3rd quarter, Lillard had picked up his third and fourth personal fouls.
He was forced to play conservatively for the rest of the game.
While the Trail Blazers managed to pull out a 121-118 victory, but it sure seemed like they were playing more than against the Mavericks for much of the night.
Sunday night’s contest was the first time all season Damian Lillard had 5 fouls.
In fact, the Blazers point guard has only had six personal fouls in five games combined in February. So, this definitely seemed like an outlier.
The last time Lillard had five personal fouls in a game was in 2019 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. OKC.
Additionally, he has only recorded five personal fouls in 27 of the 640 games he’s played. And five of those 27 games went into OT.
That means Lillard has only had five or more personal fouls in 4% of the games he’s played.
And he has only ever fouled out ONCE in his entire career.
The only occurrence was in March of 2014 in an OT loss to the Houston Rockets.
Entering Sunday’s contest, Lillard averaged 1.37 fouls per game this season. By the end of the game, that increased to 1.5 fouls per game.
So, how does a player who is averaging 1.93 fouls per game in his entire career end up with 5 fouls in a game?
Some may think it was an off-night. But, that certainly wasn’t the case for Lillard, who had 34 points and 11 assists in Sunday’s win.
After the game, Lillard pointed to a knot on his head, saying it came on a play where he didn’t get the benefit of the whistle.
Lillard went further, taking his frustrations to social media after the game, which caught the attention of Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.
It’s a facepalm, indeed.