A year ago in the bubble, Damian Lillard was a man on a mission:<
Scoring in bunches to propel the Blazers to another playoff appearance, after being on the outside looking in.
One of his more memorable performances took place a year ago today, which saw him go for 61 points on 53% shooting, 52% from three, and a perfect 18-for-18 from the line. It also doesn’t hurt he chipped in eight assists and five rebounds.
Everything was going right for him, as it was his second of three consecutive 40-point games. In that stretch, he became the first Blazer with consecutive 50-point games and the 12th player in NBA history to do such. He also rose to eighth all-time in 50-point games.
As for 60-point outings, that was the third of Lillard’s career and the first since Wilt Chamberlain (1962-’63) with at least three in a season.
"First of all, I'm just happy to be in that type of company. It's an honor," Lillard said on Chamberlain. "Tonight couldn't have been better timing for that type of game."
The game was iconic on all levels for Lillard and served as a reminder of his ability and seriousness on willing his team into the postseason.
"Ain't nothing I want more," Lillard said about making the playoffs. "When I came here, I told them I'm not here to waste my time. Our work ain't done yet, but we're fighting for it."
His mentality said it all. He was one of the few players who only wanted to be in the bubble if his team had a legit chance of making the postseason.
"We have to come out with the same mentality," Lillard said. "We control our own destiny. That's the most important game of our lives."
The Blazers would go on to make the playoffs only to lose to the Lakers in five games. Lillard was sidelined most of the series due to an injury, but his heroics weren’t forgotten.
As time progresses, Lillard’s run to end the 2019-20 season will always be remembered.