Damian Lillard set franchise and career highs with 71 points and 13 3-pointers, and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a two-game slip with a 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Lillard became the eighth other player to score 70 points in NBA history. At age 32, he is the oldest player in NBA history with a 70-point game, and the only player 30 or older to accomplish the feat, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information.
“I enjoy those moments in the game where I just go after people,” Lillard said, “when I’m in attack mode.”
Lillard tied Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell for most points in a game this season after Mitchell also scored 71 in a win over Chicago on January 2. Lillard broke his own franchise score of 61 points, which he had set twice, on a 3-pointer with 4:42 left that also surpassed his career record for 3s in a game with 11.
Lillard’s 13 3-pointers on 22 attempts was one short of the NBA record set by Golden State’s Klay Thompson in 2018. Thompson’s Warriors teammate Stephen Curry (2016) and Chicago’s Zach LaVine (2019) also made 13 3-pointers.
Overall, Lillard was 22 of 38 from the floor and made all 14 of his free throw attempts. He had six rebounds and six assists.
“It was truly a masterful performance,” said Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. “It was a work of art. That was incredible.”
In the closing minutes, the Trail Blazers’ home crowd at the Moda Center rose to their feet, phones recording the moment, chanting “MVP!”
Lillard left the game with 44 seconds remaining, tying with Mitchell, Elgin Baylor (1960) and David Robinson (1994) for eighth most points scored in a game in NBA history. Wilt Chamberlain owns the league record with 100 for Philadelphia against New York on March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
LEGENDARY. #RipCity pic.twitter.com/BaYNtlqSMK
— Portland Trailblazers (@trailblazers) February 27, 2023
Lillard had 41 points and eight 3-pointers at halftime. It was a career-high half for Lillard and the most points in a half for any player in the league this season. He had 50 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Sunday also marked Lillard’s fifth career 60-point game, breaking a tie for third in NBA history; only Chamberlain (32) and Kobe Bryant (six) have more.
Lillard has 15 games with 50 or more points, the sixth most in NBA history.
“I think every hooper enjoys those moments when you’re hot, you’re in attack mode, you’re feeling good,” Lillard said. “But it’s the things afterwards that I struggle with, like when I left the field, did I have to be overly excited, or what?”
Lillard said he was drug tested by the league shortly after his performance, which dampened the moment a bit as Lillard is afraid of needles.
“I know I have a lot of tattoos, but when you do a blood draw, it’s different than tattoos. It took me from here to the floor,” Lillard said, gesturing from above his head, then lowered his hand.
Jerami Grant added 13 points for the Blazers, who led by a whopping 23 points.
Lillard started after halftime for Thursday night’s 133-116 loss to Sacramento. He participated in the NBA All-Star Game and won the 3-point contest last weekend.
Even Mitchell noticed Lillard’s sparkling playing.
“My mom calls me and says @Dame_Lillard tied your record…you have to get 72 now,” Mitchell posted on Twitter with some smiling emojis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.