Dame Time came early Tuesday night in Moda Center. Perhaps it had something to do with the advent of Daylight Savings Time last weekend.
Damian Lillard sprang forward and the New Orleans Pelicans fell back. Call it Damian Savings Time.
Damian Lillard couldn’t wait until the final seconds of a heart-stopping 125-124 comeback win over the Pelicans. He had to take over the game with 5:42 to play and his team trailing 117-100.
He hammered home a 27-foot three-point jump shot that lit the fuse on a 25-7 run that ended the game.
It wasn’t just a great comeback, it was miraculous, given the help the Pels gave Portland down the stretch.
Included in that winning run were four clutch Lillard free throws inside the final 5.2 seconds that allowed him to finish his night 18-18 from the foul line.
The last two came with 1.2 seconds left to deliver the win – although Portland had to survive a great New Orleans inbound play that got the ball to Zion Williamson for a short bank shot that rolled off the rim as the game ended.
The Pelicans had a three-point lead with 7.2 seconds left and Brandon Ingram at the line for two shots.
But Ingram, an 88.4 percent free-throw shooter, rattled both shots out, giving the Trail Blazers a chance to stay in the game.
Lillard then hit two foul shots, the Pelicans turned the ball over on the inbound pass a second later and Portland had a chance to win
The ball was inbounded to Lillard, who went up for a medium-range jumper. It missed, but he was fouled by Eric Bledsoe.
And Lillard then finished what was one of the best Portland comebacks in recent – or not-so-recent – history with the two free throws.
“I didn't have nothing in mind -- I was going off instinct,” Lillard said of his final shot attempt. “You know when I caught it, he tried to get into my body so I knew, in his mind, he didn't want to let me get off a three.
“You know he didn't want to let me just rise up for three. I knew it was six seconds left, so I put it on the floor to attack them. And I did that, knowing that the defense would converge and they would come to me. So I pulled up. I put up a jumper, because my shot had been feeling good, and I felt like I was getting a clean look.
“He contested it pretty aggressively and he hit my arm, so I felt that contact and I saw the ball kind of going to the left, I knew it was gonna be a foul and if it wasn't, it would have been a bad missed call.
“I just had to make the free throws.”
Which, for him, is never a problem.
Lillard finished with 50 points and 10 assists, with 20 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
The unit that was on the floor for the lion’s share of the comeback included Gary Trent, Robert Covington, Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony, alongside Lillard. All contributed to the comeback.
“You don't make a comeback like that, if you don't play well at both ends,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “And I don't know what the run was, but you have to play good defense for sure. There was some desperation, obviously. Can we sustain that level of desperation for 48 minutes? I don't know, but certainly that was a big part of it.
“We played a smaller lineup, which allowed us to get open threes, and also allowed us to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end.”