PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers guard scored 60 points for the fourth time in his career during Wednesday’s 134-124 win over the Utah Jazz. Damian Lillard He made history with his talent.
Lillard needed 29 shot attempts and 10 free throw attempts to score 60, putting him in elite company. Two other players (Karl Malone with 26 in 1990, and James Harden (with 24 in 2019) have scored 60 points on fewer shot attempts, but both scored a higher percentage of their points at the foul line, making 23 free throws each.
Meanwhile, only one player scored 60 runs (Rick Barry (1974, with five) in fewer than 10 free throw attempts. Because of those limited opportunities, Lillard posted the highest true shooting percentage — a measure of combined efficiency in shot attempts and free throws — in a 60-point game (.898).
“It’s unbelievable, man,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “You don’t see that very often, having to be efficient. For a guy to have 60 points and only make 10 free throws and make nine of them, you think, 3s are ridiculous for this guy. It was unbelievable how efficient he was.”
In fact, Lillard made nine 3-pointers, the second-most in a 60-point game in January 2020 behind his own total of 11. He shot 72% (21-of-29) overall, sixth best in a contest. 60-point game.
Because he usually doesn’t check his phone until after leaving the arena, Lillard didn’t know his 60-point night was historic until the media told him about it postgame.
“That’s a pretty efficient 60-point game, really?” Lillard said. “That’s crazy. I don’t know that. I’m sitting here at the end of the shot clock from half court thinking I made a shot all the way to the end. Maybe it could have been a little better. I missed a free throw. Damn.”
The early stages of the game gave little indication that Lillard would enter the record books. He had just nine points in the first quarter before getting hot. Lillard scored 17 points in the second quarter and was at 30 for the game when he erupted late in the third quarter.
Starting at the 6:42 mark of the third, Lillard scored Portland’s final 20 points in the period, shooting 7-of-9 from the field with three 3-pointers in that span. According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, he is the third player this season to score 20 consecutive points for his team, as well as the second player to reach 50 points in three quarters. (Devin Booker Another one from the Phoenix Suns.)
Notably, Billups will have to be determined to keep Lillard in the game during that stretch.
“He was tired in the third end and I thought he was really hot,” Billups said. “I came to the timeout and said, ‘How about you? I really wanted you out here for the last two minutes.’ GP (Gary Payton II) Everyone said, ‘No, let him go!’ I said, man, this could be a good game in the end. He didn’t want to get tired because he got 45, 50. ‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ he said. I have to trust the guys in those moments.”
Despite Lillard’s heroics, the Jazz were able to stay within striking distance, allowing Lillard to return to the game and approach his career-high 62 points. He reached 60 for the fourth time in his career with a pair of free throws with 1:37 left, but didn’t attempt a shot on the Blazers’ next two possessions. That’s when Billups reminded him of the stock.
“That’s why I put him in the game,” Billups said. “I would’ve taken him out. When I pulled him over, I said to him, ‘Brother, what are you doing?’ would have earned the spot. That speaks to who he is. He didn’t even think about it.”
In the Portland trip downcourt, Lillard shot a deep 3-pointer before Utah double-teamed him, but missed. When the Blazers regained possession with mere seconds on the clock, Lillard conceded the chase.
“There was still time on the clock, but with so much time left in the game I wasn’t going to be thirsty to come back down and have a career,” he explained. “I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do, so it ended.”
Lillard is tied for the second most points in the NBA this season. Donovan Mitchell On January 3, he scored 71 in an overtime game for Cleveland against Chicago Luka Doncic Scored 60 in Dallas’ OT win over New York on Dec. 27.
Joined the group as the fifth player in NBA history to score 60 points at least four times. Wilt Chamberlain (32), Kobe Bryant (6), James Harden and Michael Jordan (4 each), Lillard is in a rare position to match such a game. For him, Wednesday’s game stood out for its simplicity.
“It’s very simple,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was easy because they had some big bodies and some long defenders, but I think usually I don’t make those simple plays and get into a groove where teams start coming in. Soon after me.
“I was kicking it in front and I was swinging it so it didn’t feel like they were behind me until the end. That’s why it seemed so simple of all.”
Although Lillard is the third-oldest player to reach 60 points at age 32, according to ESPN Stats & Info, he has a chance to continue adding to his total. Already, he’s impressed with the rare company he joined on Wednesday.
“I don’t like Wilt,” Lillard said. “It’s outside. Dang, it’s cold.”