Saturday, January 25, 2020

BIG 61 & WTF in Rip CIty

Dame dropped 61 BIG ones on the Warriors inside Moda Center on MLK day (Jan. 20). Absurd! He literally willed them to victory. It was impressive and clutch. Lillard was flame-throwing threes. Some were deep, others were really deep. Some were dribble up, pull-ups. And a couple were game saving step backs. The degree of difficulty on his final three of regulation was incredibly high to say the least. Also, he didn't miss a free throw.

Lillard played so hard that you could visibly see his fatigue. Regardless, he did what his team needed him to do. It was an unselfish 61, if that even makes sense. Just saying that 61 points can be got, in an unselfish manner, is as impressive as the raw point total is. It was a show of true leadership.

Stat line: 61 pts, 17/37 fg, 16/16 ft, 11/20 3fg, 10 rb, 7 ast, 45 min, only 2 to's

Three nights later against Dallas, at home (Jan. 23), Dame lit it up again. This night however would be different. Stotts made some highly questionable coaching calls. He gave too many minutes to the new guys. Even if Ariza was hitting shots. Swanigan should not have been playing (23 minutes!). He looked lost on both ends of the floor, sometimes even running in circles on defense. Yikes. What happened to Nasir Little? Why can't he get run? During the game against Golden State Simons and Trent Jr. each played over 40 minutes in a victory. Now they get their run shortened, what gives?

Stotts even rolled out a lineup featuring Whiteside and Swanigan. That poor decision led to clustered spacing for the Blazers. Boxing out was problematic, offensive rebounds neuter teams. The pairing of two bigs was a questionable tactic, and frankly it didn't work. Overall the Trailblazers lacked organization on both sides of the ball, often looking jumbled on offense. There was poor spacing through most of the first three quarters, further hampered by the lack of flow and on court chemistry. These decisions lay at the feet of the coach!

Lillard looked pissed. Peeps were out of position as Dame found himself in tough situations, it was too unfamiliar for everybody. He couldn't rely on continuity (again, because Stotts wasn't doing him any favors with the lineups). Damian battled through it, skillfully making the right play against double teams that occurred as high as half court. Keeping in mind that CJ was out with an ankle sprain. I couldn't help but feel for Dame. 

The Blazers began the second half lethargically. Lillard hit from deep, as if to say, 'fxck it, I got to do this myself.' Then he canned another from way downtown. It was necessity at that point. Two non-calls, one on a three and another on a crafty drive, stymied his inferno. 

Dame yam'd on Porzingis in the fourth. Unfortunately, Swanigan couldn't even imagine how to guard Kristaps on the other end, which resulted in a put-back dunk and a long three. Why was the new undersized center guarding the 7'3" guy down the stretch? Ask Stotts. Dallas' bench put the game away as Portland was running on fumes.

Lillard scored 40 on an effort drive that should've drawn a whistle. He somehow summoned the will to attack and scored again. Two free throws and his last driving layup gave him 47. Dame subbed out after receiving a tech. He was visibly frustrated, rightfully so, and the refs weren't doing him any favors. A reoccurring theme on the night. 

Look, Dame's a beast. He's one of the toughest covers in the NBA, as is his opponent. Luka's a BOSS. He's gifted, crafty, intelligent and bigger than most primary ball handlers not named LeBron. I root for Dončić, he's humble and he's the future. I just wish Dame had a coach like Carlisle—adaptive, creative, and able to make in-game adjustments. Dame needs help badly! I mean, 108 points in 87 minutes, c'mon!

Statline: 47 pts, 16/28 fg, 7/7 ft, 8/15 3fg, 6 rb, 8 ast, 42 min

Only in the NBA,


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