(CNN) Damian Lillard set an NBA record in his monster scoring night on Sunday, racking up 71 points in 39 minutes, including 13 3-pointers, as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 121-114.
With his effort, Lillard became the first player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in less than 40 minutes and only the eighth player to reach 70 points.
He is also the only player on that elite list to score 70 over 30, and the first to do so with 10 or more 3-pointers.
“I enjoy those moments in the game where I just go after people,” the NBA All-Star said after the game. “That’s all it was tonight. I wanted to be in attack mode. I got it going and stayed aggressive.”
Lillard entered the game averaging 37.6 points in his previous 18 games and continued that stellar run with a league-wide season-high mark, equaling Donovan Mitchell’s 71 points against the Chicago Bulls in January.
Lillard started scoring early, with 41 points, including eight 3-pointers at halftime. Whether riding in the paint or dropping shots from a distance, the Blazers’ guard was unplayable.
He made all 14 of his free throw attempts and had a magnetic relationship with the basket while shooting – even sinking a ridiculous 36-foot jumper in the second quarter.
He finished the game shooting 22 of 38 from the field and making 13 3-pointers on 22 attempts – just one of Klay Thompson’s record 14 3-pointers in 2018.
Lillard’s teammates kept looking for him in the final minutes to try to get ahead of Mitchell’s total, but after missing a few shots, he came off the field exhausted with 44 seconds left on the clock.
“It was truly a masterful performance,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said of his star’s play. “It was a work of art. That was incredible.”
With that performance, Lillard entered a pantheon of NBA greats. His 71-point haul is tied for the eighth most points scored in a game in NBA history, though he’s still a long way from Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 100 points set in 1962.
Lillard is behind only Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant for career-high 60-point games, and he joins the two NBA legends as the only players to have separate games to reach 50, 60, and 70 points in a season according to CBS Sports.
“I think every hooper enjoys those moments when you’re hot, you’re in attack mode, you’re feeling good,” he said.
Not only was it a brilliant individual performance from Lillard, but it was a much needed one.
The Blazers snapped a two-game losing skid with the win and keep their small hopes of a playoff spot alive. Portland now ranks 11th in the Western Conference with a 29-31 record, but is just three games away from the Phoenix Suns in fourth.
The Trail Blazers remain on the West Coast for their next game as they travel to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.