When the Trail Blazers make three-point field goals at a high rate, you can pretty much mark it down as a victory.
That was the story Wednesday night in Detroit when Portland made 16 of its 30 shots from behind the arc and cruised to a 124-101 win over the Pistons.
The victory polished off a sweep of the team’s four-game road trip.
And included in that three-point barrage was a 5-for-7 three-point night from Damian Lillard, who had made just 19.4 percent of his three-point shots over his previous four games.
Had he been playing hurt? Yes, quite obviously. He wasn’t getting the lift he usually gets on his jumper – with good reason. And Damian Lillard doesn't have four-game shooting slumps, either. Not unless he's hurting in some way.
Always reluctant to speak about his injuries for fear of it being taken as an excuse, he revealed the long list of recent bumps and bruises that have been affecting him and probably require a truckload of ice after every game.
“Earlier in the season in New York, I got kneed in my right knee, and it was pretty stiff and pretty sore.” he said. “And then, in OKC, I got kneed pretty hard on my left knee. So it was like a bruise on both of my quads, like where the muscle by my quad and my knee attach.
“I got kneed in both knees in that spot, so it caused swelling and I just didn't have good flexibility in that area, so my movement was limited -- like how I dip into my jump shot. So my base wasn't the same when I was shooting the ball.
“And then, I think the second game against Dallas, I got kneed in that same spot again. It was already still lingering soreness, but I was just kind of feeling OK. And then, once it got hit again. it just killed me. It was real sore. It was swelling.”
But that wasn’t the end of it.
“And then the Miami game, at the end of game, I got kneed on my right one again,” he said. “And it was like the same thing, so I basically was dealing with that soreness,
“But it wasn't like it was painful. I think that's why I wasn't concerned with it. You know, when I was playing it wasn't painful. I could just feel it.
“I was limited. My movement was limited.”
OK, but it wasn’t just the knees. There was something else causing a problem.
“In the second game against New Orleans during the homestand, Steven Adams swiped down and hit my hand,” Lillard said.
“So, I had a bruise in the palm of my right hand and I kind of just -- I felt it, you know, for the next few games. But in practice, when I was going through my shooting routine and stuff like that, I could feel it, but I felt like it was fine.
“Obviously, it's going to play a part when, you know, both my knees are bruised and my hand is sore. But I still felt like I give our team a better chance to win when I'm on the floor, and it wasn’t like any of those injuries were like, ‘I can make myself worse’ and they were just bruises. You know, banged up.”
Lillard looked a lot like the healthy Damian Lillard Wednesday night. He finished with 33 points and 10 assists and played 36:23.
“Tonight, I felt really good,” he said.
And with a lot of tough games ahead, that’s certainly the best news that came out of the win over the Pistons.