PORTLAND – While scoring 60 points for the fourth time in his career during Wednesday’s 134-124 win over the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers guard. Damien Lillard Made history for his efficiency.
Lillard needed just 29 shot attempts and 10 free throw attempts to score 60, which put him in the elite company. only two other players (Karl Malone With 26 in 1990, the James Harden With 24 in 2019) they reached 60 points on fewer shot attempts, but both scored a high percentage of their points at the foul line, with 23 free throws each.
Meanwhile, only one player scored 60 (Rick Barry in 1974, with five) fewer than 10 free throw attempts. Because of these limited opportunities, Lillard posted the highest true shooting percentage—a measure of combined efficiency on shot and free throw attempts—ever in a 60-point game (. 898).
“That was amazing, man,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “You can’t see that often, to be that efficient. For a guy to score 60 points and only 10 free throws and make nine of them, you’re either thinking this guy has a ridiculous amount of 3s. It’s been unbelievable how effective he is.”
In fact, Lillard made nine three-pointers, the second-most ever in a 60-point game behind his 11 in January 2020. He shot 72% overall from the field (21-of-29), sixth-best in a. 60 point game.
Since he doesn’t usually check his phone until he leaves the arena, Lillard was unaware that his 60-point night was historic until he was told about it by post-game media.
“It’s the most effective 60-point game ever, on the ground?” Lillard said. “This is crazy. I didn’t know that. I’m sitting here thinking that shot at the end of the shot clock from half the court on the end I hit. Maybe it could have been a little better. Missed a free throw. Damn.”
The early stages of the game gave little indication that Lillard would enter the record books. He only had nine points in the first quarter before heating up. Lillard scored 17 points in the second quarter and was at 30 for the game when he exploded at the end of the third period.
Starting with a layup at the 6:42 mark of the third, Lillard went on to score Portland’s final 20 points in the period, shooting 7-of-9 from the field in that period with three three-pointers. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he was the third player this season to score 20 consecutive points for his team, as well as only the second to reach 50 points with three quarters. (Devin Booker From the Phoenix Suns was the other.)
Significantly, Billups had to be persuaded to keep Lillard in the game during that period.
“I thought he was tired at the end of the third period and he was really hot,” Billups said. “I came to time-out and said, ‘How do you feel?'” I really wanted to get you out here in the last two minutes. “GP (Gary Payton II) and everyone was like, “No, let him go!” I said, man, this might finally be a good match. I don’t want to tire him out because he was 45, 50. He said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” I have to trust men in those moments.”
Despite Lillard’s heroics, the Jazz managed to stay within striking distance, allowing Lillard to get back into the game and close to a career high of 62 points. He reached 60 for the fourth time in his career from two free throws with 1:37 remaining, but did not attempt a shot on the Blazers’ next two possessions. That’s when Pelops reminded him of the dangers.
“That’s the only reason I kept him in the game,” Billups said. “I was going to take him out. I told him when I stopped him, I said, ‘Brother, what are you doing?'” We’re running the same play. I’m trying to elevate your career. He looked at me and said, ‘Okay, I’m going to make it. ‘Brother, I was going to get you out and get the status you deserve. That just speaks to who he is. He wasn’t even thinking about it.”
On Portland’s ensuing drive, Lillard kicked a deep three-pointer before Utah could double his lead, but missed. With mere seconds on the clock when the Blazers regained possession, Lillard conceded the punt.
“There was still time on the clock, but I wouldn’t be hungry to come back with so much time left in the game just to get high,” he explained. “I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do, and that’s how it ended.”
Tied Lillard for the second most points in the NBA this season. Donovan Mitchell He had 71 in Cleveland’s overtime game against Chicago on January 3, and Luka Doncic He scored 60 in Dallas’ win over New York on December 27.
As the fifth player in NBA history to score 60 points at least four times, he joins a group that includes Wilt Chamberlain (32), Kobe Bryant (6), James Harden and Michael Jordan (4 each), Lillard is in the rare position of being able to compare such performances. For him, Wednesday’s game stood out for its simplicity.
“It was very simple,” he said. “I don’t want to say it’s been easy because they’ve got some big bodies and some long-time defenders, but I think usually I get into a groove where I just go without making those simple plays, as teams start coming after me sooner.
“I was kicking it forward, I was swinging it, so I didn’t feel like they came after me to the end. That’s why it seemed like the simplest of them all.”
Even though Lillard is now the third oldest player to score 60 points at 32 years of age, according to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s got a chance to continue adding to his tally. Indeed, he admired the rare company he joined on Wednesday.
“I don’t catch Wilt,” Lillard said. “It’s over. Dang, that’s cool.”