What a finish in Chicago.
Trail Blazers five-time All -Star Damian Lillard looked like a man on a mission Saturday night in Chicago.
As Chicago clamped down on defense in crunch time and came up with timely buckets, it was Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. who came up HUGE in the final six seconds of action as Portland.
And it was Lillard who splashed in the three for the 123-122 win at the buzzer.
Lillard came out firing, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. He also showed off his strong two-man game with both Enes Kanter and Harry Giles.
The Bulls caught fire from three early and late. Chicago took a 34-32 lead after the first 12 minutes of action.
But with Lillard Time in the final minute, the Blazers snapped a two-game skid.
Saturday marked Robert Covington’s first game back since suffering a concussion last Sunday at home against the Knicks. But Portland was without Derrick Jones Jr. (left foot sprain) who missed his first full game of the season. Nassir Little earned the starting nod in place of the injured Derrick Jones Jr. and Gary Trent Jr. remained in the starting two-guard spot.
Trent Jr. was a big scoring boost once again for the Blazers as was Enes Kanter. When Lillard wasn’t the one dropping threes or finishing at the rim, he was dropping dimes. Lillard finished with 44 points and nine assists on the night.
Damian Lillard notched his 11th 30+ point game. The Blazers point guard leads the league in 30+ point games. Lillard also got help on the wing from Gary Trent Jr. on both ends.
Also there was this game-winner from Lillard:
Enes Kanter was an integral part of the Blazers taking an 11-point lead at the break. Kanter was nearly automatic in the paint. He was moving his defenders out of the way and scoring in bunches while still clearing up the glass all night long.
As a team, the Blazers made adjustments on defense in the second quarter to slow down the Bulls especially on the perimeter with active hands and countless deflections. Portland outscored Chicago 32-19 in the second quarter.
When Lillard and Kanter went to the bench, Portland’s second unit struggled to keep pace with Chicago. The Blazers allowed the Bulls to get back in the game late in the first quarter and early in the fourth. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen showed why Chicago has been a top scoring team in the league so far this season.
Portland also struggled from three-point range in the first half, shooting 6-of-19 from behind the arc.
Lillard rewarded his big man for getting out and running as Harry Giles threw down the fastbreak dunk in the first quarter.
The Blazers certainly missed Robert Covington on the defensive end. The 2018 All-Defensive First Team honoree helped boost Portland’s defense Saturday. RoCo recorded three steals in the first half and had a positive plus-minus of plus-17.
Next up: Portland continues its six-game road trip with game number three on Monday night in Milwaukee. The Blazers and Bucks tip-off at 5:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW Monday.