Originally posted on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 4/11/13
Lillard’s Big Night Sitting 11 games under .500, and mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the Portland Trail Blazers had very little to play for heading in to last night’s contest against the rival Los Angeles Lakers. However, any time Portland hosts the Lakers at the Rose Garden, no matter the situation, there’s always something to play for, and that something is pride. So even though Rip City was missing three starters (Nic Batum, Wes Matthews and JJ Hickson), they would attempt to derail Los Angeles’ playoff push behind All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie sensation Damian Lillard. Even though Portland fell short at the end of the game, Damian Lillard put on a show, going head to head with Kobe Bryant, trading punches all the way until the final buzzer. Hot First Quarter Lillard got the game going strong by pacing the Blazers in the first quarter, scoring 17 of his career-best 38 points in the frame. Damian knocked down three deep threes, to go along with three mid-range jumpers, and a pair of free throws, to help Portland put up 41 points in the first quarter, staking the Blazers an 8 point lead. The rookie also got his teammates going by dishing out an amazing 7 assists in the first quarter alone. It was apparent from the tip-off that Portland wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and the rising star that is Damian Lillard wasn’t afraid of who the opponent was. Even if that opponent happened to be Kobe Bryant, who was keeping pace with the young kid, putting up 17, of his season-high 47 points, in the first quarter. Taking the Lead in to Halftime Lillard kept his shooting touch going in the second quarter, scoring 8 points, while keeping the Lakers, temporarily, at bay. Portland’s second half performance looked nothing like the team that took to the court for the previous 24 minutes. Whether it be highlight reel type dunks, or his now signature step back jumpers, Damian Lillard was not going to be slowed by the Lakers sporadic defense Wednesday night, and was looking like the Rookie of the Year that he should be. With Bryant notching 11 more points in the 2nd quarter, and both teams putting up 28 in the frame, Portland headed in to the locker room up 8 points, and in full control. Stumbling through the 2nd Half Whether it be experience, or fatigue, or just plain getting out played, Portland’s second half performance looked nothing like the team that took to the court for the previous 24 minutes. This lapse, however, did nothing to slow Damian Lillard’s quest to keep the Lakers from the postseason, and his hot touch stayed with him well in to the second half. Scoring 9 of Portland’s 21 third quarter points, Lillard seemed to be all the fight Portland had left. Needing just 4 points to record a new career high in points (previous career high was 36 points) the rookie seemed poised to add another accomplishment to his already impressive first season in Portland. A Career High or a Win? The bottom seemed to completely fall out on the Blazers in the fourth quarter, as Los Angeles methodically made their comeback, and created a comfortable lead heading in to the last few minutes of play. Lillard had tied his career high of 36 points with just under 7 minutes to play, but seemingly had more on his mind than just setting a personal record; he wanted to win. At this point in the game you could see where Bryant’s veteran experience distanced himself from Damian Lillard’s fresh faced first season. Bryant all but iced the game after a clear path violation was called against Damian Lillard that sent Kobe to the line for two free throws, and also gave LA the ball (where Kobe hit a long jumper on that ensuing possession). The Lakers ended up cruising to a 7 point victory, and kept their playoff hopes alive. Lillard’s Accomplishment Lillard did end up scoring that final basket to give him 38 points on the night, good for the most points he’s scored in a game during his career thus far, but the sting of defeat left a sour taste in his mouth. If any silver lining can be taken from his performance it’s that Portland has a rising star on their hands, one who will dazzle fans on a nightly basis as long as he’s donning the black and red of Rip City. Watching him go toe to toe with one of the game’s best is a testament to his drive, and motivation, to be a superstar. His comments from the beginning of this month about his ability to be an All-Star, and a league MVP, seem less and less far-fetched each time he takes the court. His future is bright and Rip City will enjoy watching him light up the Rose Garden for years to come. Agree? Disagree? Hit me back below. I welcome your feedback. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Saban will not rule out Kenyan Drake for Iron Bowl

Andre Drummond responds to Khris Middleton saying he doesn’t like contact

Lacking Jazz: Why Utah’s offense has struggled this season

Magic to bench Victor Oladipo, start Channing Frye

10 unheralded NFL players set to make a major impact in Week 12

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season


Tyrann Mathieu says Blaine Gabbert has a ‘better grip on what’s going on’

NCAA frees Kansas blue chipper Cheick Diallo

Rockets hold in-season training camp in attempt to rebound from disastrous start

Kansas City Chiefs: No Jamaal Charles, no problem

How the Warriors can win 72 games

Frank Gifford suffered from CTE, family announces

Kristaps Porzingis really wants to meet Turtle from ‘Entourage’

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

WATCH: Ref injures Yakupov's leg by pulling him down

Ryan Fitzpatrick shaves beard to ‘switch up the mojo’

Bedlam is bigger than ever, but which team will be better than ever?

5 outrageous predictions for Week 12 of the NFL season

How the Detroit Lions became the face of football on Thanksgiving Day

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 college football season

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay his $2,500 fine

Jose Bautista's bat flip inspires a holiday sweater

The Kristaps Porzingis comparison project

What’s next for Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns?

Gisele Bundchen asks Tom Brady ‘all the time’ why he still plays football

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top storyline for each Week 12 NFL game

Top 10 matchups for Week 12 of the NFL season

The 10 most disappointed fan bases of the 2015 CFB season

Gronk: Takes mental toughness not to overeat on Thanksgiving

Blue Jays fans create website in effort to keep David Price

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker