Trail Blazers’ Lillard makes Rip City proud at NBA All-Star Game

Good morning, Rip City! Welcome to your Presidents Day Monday Morning Blazer. This is where we brag about Damian Lillard’s performance at the NBA All-Star Game.

Damian Lillard was an effective assassin Sunday at the NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Trail Blazers’ all-everything player scored 21 points (tied for the team lead with DeMar DeRozan) on 9-of-14 shooting.

And it didn’t escape Rip City’s notice that whenever Lillard was out of the game, Team Stephen struggled to hold the lead, eventually losing to Team Lebron, 148-145.

Team Stephen head coach Mike D’Antoni kept Lillard on the bench during crunch time. And as we all know, Dolla needs to be on the court when the game is on the line.

It’s like we said:

Lillard was a strong contender for All-Star Game MVP, which ultimately went to LeBron James, who led his squad to victory with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Trail Blazers All-Stars

This was Lillard’s third All-Star Game. And one could argue that it should have been at least his fourth appearance at the league’s ultimate showcase.

But in any even, Lillard is climbing the ranks of all-time Blazers greats.

Sixteen Trail Blazers have made the All-Star team for a total of 41 selections. For a nifty rundown of each and every Portland All-Star, be sure to check out our slideshow.

You can learn a lot there. For example: Which Blazers All-Star did Bill Walton name his kid after?

You’ll be the king of Trail Blazers trivia if you study the slideshow! Check it out here.

Holidays and Basketball Games

Anyway …

It’s Presidents Day — or perhaps President’s Day or maybe even Presidents’ Day — but in reality, it’s more likely Washington’s Birthday, which isn’t actually today today.

Got that?

Washington’s Birthday is the official name of the U.S. federal holiday; it’s celebrated on the third Monday in February, even though George Washington’s birthday was Feb. 22.

Good on the federal government for recognizing that most American workers prefer three-day weekends to celebrating the nation’s first president’s birthday on his actual birthday.

I’m not even gonna bring up Abraham Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson, for whom similar holidays are celebrated throughout the U.S., sometimes on the same day as Washington’s Birthday Presidents President’s Presidents’ Day.

But what do I care? Here I am working. Because the Rip City Project never rests!

Trail Blazers vs. Jazz

The Blazers’ All-Star break continues until this Friday, when the team heads to Utah to take on the still-surging Utah Jazz. You may remember that Portland got whooped by the Jazz on Feb. 11.

And Utah hasn’t let up since; they’ve now won 11 straight.

Led by the dynamic — and new Slam Dunk Contest champ — Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz (30-28; 10th in the Western Conference) are a handful for the Trail Blazers (32-26; seventh in the Western Conference). They’ve beaten Portland in both their meetings this season, and the teams will play twice more, including Friday’s tilt.

Hopefully, momentum from the Blazers’ thrilling victory Wednesday over Golden State will carry over to Friday.

This is the home stretch of the season. If the Blazers are going to solidify their position in the topsy-turvy and ultra-competitive West, they’re gonna have to start playing more often like they did against the Warriors.

Friday tip-off in Utah is set for 6 p.m. PST.

Have a great day, Rip City.

And go Blazers.