There’s Dame Time, and then there’s Dame Time in bold and italics.
This was the latter.
Portland superstar Damian Lillard put up 41 points in the opening half against Houston on Monday (AEDT) and finished with 71, stunning the NBA world.
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He became the seventh player in NBA history to score 70-plus points, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, Donovan Mitchell and Elgin Baylor.
Mitchell scored exactly 71 points as well for the Cavaliers earlier this year. It means the rare feat of two 70-point games in one season has been achieved for the first time since the 1962-63 season.
Lillard went 13 of 19 shooting in the first half with eight threes, matching the highest halftime score of any player since Kobe Bryant’s 42 on March 28, 2003.
He finished going 22 of 38 shooting including 13 of 22 from three-point range and 14 of 14 on free throws, plus six rebounds and six assists.
It was the most scored by any Trail Blazer in a game, and the most points given up to one player by Houston ever.
Lillard achieve the historic feat in under 40 minutes of game time, bettering the previous best mark of 63 points in under 40 minutes on court.
“Best player in the NBA right now,” one of the commentators proclaimed.
No other player in the game scored more than 17 points.
Portland won 131-114.
OTHER RESULTS, via AFP
The Los Angeles Lakers erased a 27-point deficit to grab a much-needed 111-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks as the Milwaukee Bucks pushed their NBA winning streak to 14 games.
Anthony Davis scored 30 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three straight as they try to claw their way into playoff position.
LeBron James added 26 points and unheralded Jarred Vanderbilt scored 15 points with 17 rebounds and four steals in an impressive performance that included strong defense on Mavs star Luka Doncic.
The Lakers were in full flight in the third quarter when James went down hard, clutching his right ankle and heel in pain and saying he heard something “pop.” He stayed in the game, draining a three-pointer to tie it up early in the fourth and making the basket to give them their first lead since early in the first quarter.
Davis grabbed the rebound of a Vanderbilt miss and made a put-back dunk to stretch the lead with two minutes to play and the Lakers held on for the win.
Doncic scored 26 points, but 14 of those came in the first quarter. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Mavs, but couldn’t assert himself in the final period.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham called his team’s biggest comeback win of the season “a huge shot in the arm.” “The way we were able to continue to scratch, claw, fight, compete,” he said.
“There were some tough, depressing moments in that first half as they were building their lead. The guys never got discouraged. They had that look of frustration but it wasn’t a look of defeatedness.” James said he’d monitor his ankle, but he never considered leaving the game with the Lakers on the upswing.
“I thought we could steal one,” he said.
In Milwaukee, Jrue Holiday scored 33 points to help the Bucks shake off the absence of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in a 104-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
The Sunday matinee was minus some star power as Antetokounmpo sat out with a quadriceps contusion and Kevin Durant’s Suns debut remained on hold as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer meanwhile singled out Holiday’s defensive effort, which included a crucial late steal to rob the Suns’ Devin Booker.
“His hands are phenomenal, his competitiveness is at a high high level, and he’s got a knack for getting deflections and steals at meaningful moments — and that’s what winners do,” Budenholzer told reporters.
The clash between the 2021 NBA finalists offered plenty of drama as the Bucks erased a seven-point deficit with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter to extend their league-best streak.
Brook Lopez scored 22 points for Milwaukee, his cutting layup putting the Bucks up for good 102-100 with 28.4 seconds remaining — just seconds after Booker’s turnaround basket under heavy pressure had pulled the Suns level.
Booker missed his first six shots but warmed up to lead the Suns with 24 points. Trae Young was the hero in Atlanta, his floater as time expired lifting the Hawks to a 129-127 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets had trailed by as many as 18, but tied it up at 127-127 on Cam Johnson’s three-pointer with 7.8 seconds left.
Suns 101, Bucks 104
Nets 127, Hawks 129
Wizards 82, Bulls 102
Lakers 111, Mavericks 108
Raptors 93, Cavaliers 118
Kings 124, Thunder 115
Timberwolves 104, Warriors 109
Rockets 114, Trail Blazers 131
Clippers 124, Nuggets 134 (OT)
Originally published as Damian Lillard enters NBA immortality with 71-pt absurdity
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