In game 5, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard scored 50 points and hit a 37-foot game-winner in a performance for the ages.
We hear about star players putting their team on their back in the NBA, but I have never seen such a glaring example of that phrase until last night.
Offensively, the Portland Trail Blazers struggled to make shots in the first quarter, but Damian Lillard came out of the gate hot scoring 19 points in the first period and a franchise record 34 points by halftime.
There was nothing Oklahoma City could do to stop him. They were contesting every shot and did not give Lillard an inch of daylight. Lillard was just that good. Nearly every shot he hit was extremely difficult, but he continued to make contested three after contested three with ease.
Due to Lillard’s 34 points, the Blazers had a 1 point lead at halftime. The team’s second-leading scorer was Seth Curry with only 7 points.
Lillard hit another deep three-pointer on the first possession of the third quarter, and he continued his hot shooting. However, CJ McCollum struggled to hit open jumpers, and Lillard was still carrying the team.
Meanwhile, everything was going right for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder were hitting pull up jumpers. Paul George was playing like the MVP candidate he was during the regular season. George finished the game with 36 points on 14-20 shooting.
Terry Stotts gave Lillard a short rest on the bench, and the offense was lost without him. As a result, the Thunder took a double-digit lead.
Lillard returned later in the fourth quarter, and Maurice Harkless and Enes Kanter were able to score a few times at the rim. The Blazers crawled their way back into the game, and they had the ball with the game tied up and a chance to take the last shot. Then, it happened. The shot heard around the world. Lillard pulled up from 37 feet and hit an amazing shot as time expired. He waved goodbye to the Thunder and singlehandedly sent the Blazers to the next round.
The final three-pointer was Lillard’s 10th of the night giving him the franchise record for threes in a playoff game. He finished with a whopping 50 points.
On a night where everything went right for the Thunder and the supporting cast largely struggled, Lillard was still able to get it done. Here is the three-point shooting comparison between Lillard and the rest of the Blazers: Lillard 10-18, rest of the team: 3-17.
Simply put, Lillard delivered one of the best individual performances in playoff history, and the Blazers are going to the second round because of it.