Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard delivers 60-points in historic performance
Lillard is tied with Michael Jordan and James Harden for third-most 60-point games in NBA history
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard scored 60 points for the fourth time in his NBA career during a win over the Utah Jazz.
The six-time All-Star's efficient shooting led the Trail Blazers to a 134-124 win on Wednesday night. Lillard only took 29 shots and 10 free throw attempts en route to his epic 60-point performance. Only two other players in NBA history have been able to score 60 with less than 29 shot attempts.
Karl Malone only needed 26 shot attempts in 1990, while James Harden used 24 in 2019.
Rick Barry needed more than 29 shots attempts from the field to score 60 points in 1974, but he utilized less than 10 free throw attempts to reach the impressive scoring mark.
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"That was incredible, man," Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. "You don't get to see that very often, to be that efficient. For a guy to score 60 points and only 10 free throws and make nine of them, you're thinking either this dude has an absurd amount of threes. It was just incredible how efficient he was.
Lillard knocked down nine 3-pointers on Wednesday night, which tied for second most ever in a 60-point game. Overall, he shot 72 percent overall from the field.
Lillard said he didn't realize he had accomplished anything until someone told him after the game.
"It's the most efficient 60-point game ever, for real?" Lillard said. "That's crazy. I didn't know that. I'm just sitting here thinking I had a shot at the end of the shot clock from half court toward the end that I shot. It probably would have been a little bit better. I missed a free throw."
The night started off in a somewhat routine fashion with Lillard finishing the first quarter with nine points. But in the second quarter, the guard racked up 17 points.
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He heated up in the third quarter and closed the period by scoring Portland's final 20 points. He was 7-9 from the field with three 3-pointers in the third.
Remarkably, Billups had to be convinced to keep Lillard in the game during that stretch.
Billups hinted that he considered taking Lillard out of the game due to fatigue, but he ultimately decided to let him keep playing after he reassured the coach he could keep going.
"I thought he was tired at the end of the third and he was so hot," Billups said. "I came into the timeout and I said, 'How are you feeling? I really wanted to get you out here for the last two minutes.' GP [Gary Payton II] and everybody was like, 'No, let him go!' I said, man, this could be a good game at the end. I don't want to have him tired because he got 45, 50. He said, 'I'm good, I'm good.' I've got to trust guys in those moments."
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Lillard tied for the second-most points in the league this season. Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic also scored 60 in an overtime win against the New York Knicks on Dec. 27. Doncic's performance delivered the first 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double in NBA history.
Both of those performances are just behind Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell's 71-point performance on Jan. 3.
Lillard became the fifth player in league history to score 60 points at least four times. Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and James Harden are the other four players to make up the elite group of players to drop 60 points four times or more.
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Lillard said he was able to get into a rhythm and keep things simple on Wednesday night.
"I don't want to say it was easy because they had some big bodies and some long defenders out there, but I think usually I get into a groove where I'm just going without making those simple plays, that teams start to come after me sooner," he noted.