The real Damian Lillard showed up Friday night in Brooklyn.
It wasn’t that man who has struggled through his last 11 games, averaging 21.4 points per game and shooting 33.3 percent from three-point range.
This was the Damian Lillard who had us all accustomed to his 30 points per game and those three-point shots from somewhere near halfcourt.
Friday, the Blazers whipped the Nets 128-109 and Lillard finished with 32 points in 35:57, making 8-13 from three with nine assists, seven rebounds and just one turnover.
“It was good to see him shooting the ball that well,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “You know, I'm still surprised that he doesn't shoot a free throw, but to have some deep shots go in for him. He had a good rhythm, and it's an understatement, we're a much better team -- we're a really good team -- when he's playing at that level.
“So, is it's reassuring, especially on a night when CJ didn't necessarily shoot the ball as well as he can. But I was happy for Dame that he had a game that that we're used to seeing.”
Lillard knocked down two jumpers from the Nets’ mid-court logo and dunked. It was the full Damian Lillard Experience that we’ve seen countless times.
And it came on a day when Yahoo’s Chris Haynes wrote a piece that urged the Trail Blazers to find a better supporting cast alongside Lillard.
“I took it for what it was,” Lillard said of the column. "That's his thoughts, you know. I was not irritated with him, because he's a writer, that's what he does.
“But I know, because of our relationship. that people would assume that I was tied to the story. So I think that was the only thing that bothered me about it.
"But I lean on the fact that me and Neil (Olshey), if we have a conversation, I know I can go into his office and walk in that door and tell him whatever I think. And we've had those conversations. Same with Terry, so I think (Haynes) was doing his job.”
Lillard pointed to his team’s defense as the reason the Blazers have turned a five-game losing streak into a three-game winning streak.
“I think the biggest difference in the last few games, is we've been defending from the beginning of the game,” he said. “And I think we've been able to sustain it longer than we typically do and it's been taking pressure off our offense.
“For me personally, I mean, like I said, about a week ago there was a lot, a lot that goes into it, our team was at that point when we’re going to fall apart, or are we going to dig out -- you know, come together and get ourselves right.
"And I think we've shown some signs of going in the right direction, and that starts with the defense for us."
The Blazers caught a break Friday. The Nets played without Kevin Durant, who scored 40 points vs. Indiana Thursday, and James Harden, who is sitting out with a hamstring problem.
Portland, just halfway through a six-game trip, moves on to Boston for a Sunday game against the Celtics.