Damien Lillard put in a stunning individual performance to inspire the Portland Trail Blazers (23-16) to a spectacular 125-124 win over the New Orleans Pelicans (17-23).
Lillard hit 50 points from just 20 shots, plus 10 assists, 6 rebounds and went 18/18 from the free throw line as he inspired a sensational comeback from the Blazers, who were down 14 points at the half and who still had a double-digit deficit to overcome with just over five minutes left on the clock.
Lillard now has the 7th most 50-point games in NBA history, tied with LeBron James. It was his 20 points in the final quarter, including the crucial two points from the free throw line with just 1.2 seconds remaining, that turned the game in Portland’s favor.
The Blazers hit a perfect 31/31 from the free throw line in the game and every one of those scores, especially Lillard’s final two at the death, were pivotal in them turning around a likely defeat, into the unlikeliest of wins.
Criticism For Pelicans From Coach
However, while Blazers fans were singing the praises of their All-Star shooter Lillard, there were plenty of New Orleans Pelicans fans who were unhappy at the capitulation of their team, who still held a healthy lead with just over five minutes on the clock.
The Pelicans Coach Stan Van Gundy was critical of his team after the game stating about the Pelican’s fourth quarter performance:
“I mean, we just didn’t play the way we played the whole game, like we were trying to run the clock out. We talked about that before: We’ve got to get the ball down on the floor and play the game. And we did not do it.”
That criticism of the Pelicans play should not undermine the quality of the Trail Blazers comeback in the game. Even though the Pelicans did hold a lead of 16 points at one stage, the Blazers always remained within striking distance and not even some stellar play by the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson, could help the Pelicans pull clear.
Lillard and the Trail Blazers will renew their rivalry with the Pelicans once again this coming Thursday as the teams will do battle for the third time this season.
Other Key NBA Results
In other big NBA news from Tuesday night, the Utah Jazz got back to winning ways with a very welcome 117-109 win over the Boston Celtics. It was another fine team performance from the Jazz with Donovan Mitchell top-scoring with 21 points and Rudy Gobert landing 12 rebounds alongside his 16-point contribution.
The Miami Heat were convincing winners over the Cleveland Cavaliers by a 113-98 scoreline. Jimmy Butler was the key to the win netting 28 points and also 12 rebounds.
Zach LaVine had another big night for the Chicago Bulls as he hit 40 points and played a significant role in the Bulls 123-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Houston Rockets miserable run continued as they lost their 17th game in a row to the Atlanta Hawks 119-107. Danilo Gallinari top scoring for the Hawks with 29 point. And Trae Young contributed 14 assists.
In the second big game of the night, the Philadelphia 76ers retained top spot in the Eastern Conference with a tight 99-96 victory over the New York Knicks. Tobias Harris top scored with 30 points in what was a very good win for the 76ers who continue to be without starman Joel Embiid.
The late game saw the Los Angeles Lakers rack up 137 points to the Minnesota Timberwolves 121 with LeBron James and Montrezl Harrell both contributing 25 points and James also adding 12 rebounds and the same number of assists.
Tonight, there is some very exciting action in the Eastern Conference as the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers go head to head once again in what could be a key game in deciding who comes out on top of that conference. Other big games tonight include the Brooklyn Nets facing the Indiana Pacers, the Boston Celtics taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the LA Clippers facing the Dallas Mavericks.