Damian Lillard set an NBA record in his monster scoring night on Sunday, racking up 71 points in 39 minutes, including 13 three-pointers, as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 121-114.
With his effort, Lillard became the first player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in under 40 minutes and just the eighth player to hit the 70-point mark.
He is also the only player on that elite list to score 70 over the age of 30, and the first to do so with 10 or more three-pointers.
“I enjoy those moments in the game when I’m just going after people,” the NBA All-Star said after the game. “That’s all it was tonight. I wanted to be in attack mode. I got it going and stayed aggressive.”
Lillard came into the game averaging 37.6 points in his previous 18 games and continued that stellar run with a league-wide, season-high mark, equaling Donovan Mitchell’s 71 points against the Chicago Bulls in January.
Lillard started the scoring early, with 41 points, including eight three-pointers at halftime. Whether driving into the paint or dropping shots from distance, the Blazers guard was unplayable.
He made all 14 of his free throw attempts and had a magnetic relationship with the basket when shooting – even sinking a ludicrous, 36-foot jumper in the second quarter.
He ended the game shooting 22-of-38 from the field, making 13 three-pointers from 22 attempts – just one off Klay Thompson’s record 14 3-pointers set in 2018.
Lillard’s teammates continued looking for him in the closing minutes to try and get ahead of Mitchell’s total, but after missing a couple of shots, he came off the court exhausted with 44 seconds left the clock.
“It really, really was a masterful performance,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said of his star’s game. “It was a piece of art. That was incredible.”
With that performance, Lillard entered a pantheon of NBA greats. His 71-point haul is tied for the eighth-most points scored in a game in NBA history, though still some way off Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points set in 1962.
Lillard is behind only Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant for career 60-point games and he joins the two NBA legends as the only players to have separate games hitting 50, 60 and 70 points in a season according to CBS Sports.
“I think any hooper enjoys those moments when you’re hot, you’re in attack mode, you’re feeling good,” he said.
Not only was it a brilliant individual showing from Lillard, but it was also a much needed one.
The Blazers snapped a two-game losing skid with the win and keep their slim hopes of a playoff spot alive. Portland now sits in 11th place in the Western Conference with a 29-31 record but is only three games off the Phoenix Suns in fourth.
The Trail Blazers stay on the west coast for their next game as they travel to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.