Damian Lillard was in the middle of a postgame television interview on Monday night when teammate CJ McCollum doused him with a cup of water in an attempt to cool him down.
Lillard was certainly hotter than lava that night and the Portland star looks to follow up one of the top performances of the NBA season on Thursday night when the Trail Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks.
Lillard established franchise records of 61 points and 11 3-pointers — he held the former marks of 60 and 10, respectively — while leading Portland to a 129-124 overtime victory over the visiting Golden State Warriors.
Lillard became the sixth player in NBA history with multiple 60-point games. The others are Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain (32 times), Kobe Bryant (six), Michael Jordan (five), Elgin Baylor (four) plus Houston Rockets star James Harden (four).
«You kind of run out of adjectives for Damian and his performance,» Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters afterward. «The way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, timeouts, halftime, his leadership was great. You run out of adjectives, he’s an amazing player.»
Lillard joked about the record-setting performance — «I guess if somebody’s going to beat my record, it’s good to be me,» he said — but he was all business when asked about the plight of the Trail Blazers (19-26) sitting on the outside of the playoff race past the midway point of the season.
«Anything I’m a part of, I always think it’s a chance. It’s as simple as that,» Lillard said. «You show that belief with your actions and your body language and your attitude all the time, so it’s not like I was having a good game (Monday night) so everybody believed because I believed. It’s like, they know my disposition all the time, they know my attitude and personality all the time.»
Lillard will be matched up against Mavericks star Luka Doncic for the second time in seven days.
Dallas notched a 120-112 home win last Friday as Doncic made a career-best eight 3-pointers and recorded 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Lillard registered 34 points and 10 assists.
The Mavericks (27-16) had a four-game winning streak halted Tuesday when they lost 110-107 to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
Doncic barely missed his 13rd triple-double of the season with 36 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. But no other Dallas player had more than the 13 points scored by shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Mavericks also suffered a huge blow when big man Dwight Powell fell to the floor with a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon. Powell is weighing surgical options, according to the team.
«It’s a somber night with Dwight’s situation,» Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after the contest. «It’s a real tough one.»
Powell had been playing superb basketball with power forward Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with a knee injury. He averaged 14.4 points and shot 78.3 percent from the field (47 of 60) over the previous eight games prior to the injury.
Porzingis returned from a 10-game absence on Tuesday but struggled badly and had just 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
Meanwhile, McCollum is in danger of missing his third straight game due to an ankle injury in Friday’s game against the Mavericks. Hardaway complemented Doncic in Friday’s game by making five 3-pointers and scoring 29 points.
The teams have split two meetings this season, while Dallas has dropped its last three visits to Portland.
–Field Level Media