There is no player hotter in the NBA right now than Portland's own Damian Lillard. His historic streak scaled to new heights on Saturday night in front of a frenzied hometown crowd as the Blazers pulled off another improbable victory over the top tier Utah Jazz. Lillard has now become the first player in NBA history to hit at least six three pointers in six straight games, a streak that has seen him average an insane 48.8 points per contest. Even the elite players in the NBA rarely manage to record a 50 point game, if ever, but Lillard has now reached that mark three times in the past two weeks. He has almost singlehandedly revived what was beginning to be seen as a write-off season for the Blazers. This weekend alone, the Blazers beat handily both the first place Lakers and the fourth place Jazz in back-to-back games. The Utah Jazz, considered title contenders this season, were no match for Lillard and the Blazers on Saturday. The score was 124-107.
"I've never been in this type of rhythm in my life," said Lillard after the game. It's true, Blazer fans are witnessing history.
.@Dame_Lillard is the FIRST PLAYER in NBA history to average 45 points and 10 assists over a 6-game span.
Watch his best play from each of those 6 games! pic.twitter.com/3Pz2dWPMQL
— NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2020
Hassan Whiteside also deserves credit for the Blazers current success. He's been dominant in the paint, registering a whopping 21 rebounds and 17 points versus Utah, a feat made more impressive considering he was up against one of the league's best centers in Rudy Gobert. Whiteside's skill and size on the boards allowed the Blazers key extra possessions while keeping Utah from causing much damage close the the hoop.
The Blazers led by 10 points at the half. Would you like to see a sampling of some the fans enjoying the big game on Saturday? Here you go!
These guys, Ryan and Johnny, traveled all the way from Utah to see their team lose, but at least they did it in style:
Rip City Faithful:
As the second half began Utah tried to stay close, throwing double teams, even triple teams at Lillard, but he always seemed to either find an open teammate (he had 12 assists) or somehow drain a ridiculous shot and cause the Utah defenders to shake their heads in disbelief. Towards the end of the game chants of "MVP" rained down from the crowd. Teammate CJ McCollum reveled in the cheers for his brother in arms:
Below are some highlights from the game which I suggest you watch if you want to see more of the Lillard magic on display. It should be noted that the nearly whole team is playing well right now. Trevor Ariza has meshed nicely with the starting five, providing essential defense and veteran savvy, while Camelo Anthony continues his fine revival season. Newcomers like Gary Trent and Nasir Little are providing much needed sparks off the bench. Check it out:
Portland now sits in 9th place in the west, knocking on the door of the playoff picture. They face another strong opponent in the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, an away game that will surely test this team's mettle. The national sports media will likely shine a light on Lillard this week, speculating whether this wild run can continue. Meanwhile, the Blazers as a team have some tough decisions to make as the trade deadline looms. Conventional wisdom says they need to trade Whiteside and his huge expiring contract in order to plan for the future, but fans will likely wonder how can we break up a team that is so clearly on the rise? We shall see!