By now, six seasons into Damian Lillard’s career, the Trail Blazers have come to expect not just greatness out of their do-it-all point guard, but also late-season magic. And Saturday in Phoenix, in what he called one of his more “significant” late-season performances, Lillard gave some insight into how, and why, he flourishes when a game, and sometimes a season, are on the line. “It comes down to how much it means to you,’’ Lillard said after his memorable game winner Saturday that capped a 40-point, 10-rebound performance. And therein lies his power: what this means to him. See, with Lillard, he carries an incredible weight on his shoulders. Fair or unfair, the success and failure of the Trail Blazers are, in his mind, a reflection of him. It is a burden that only superstars feel, and one that only special, franchise players can relate. It’s why last season he called it the greatest accomplishment of his career after he led the Blazers into the playoffs after they were 11-games under .500 heading into March. And it’s why he long ago game to grips with All-Star snubs and postseason awards, because he had realized the game is bigger than awards. It’s about winning. So with the Blazers on Saturday trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter to the lowly Suns, and the entire team mired in a 3-for-26 shooting night from three-point range, Lillard knew it was time to show what all this means to him.
The secret of Damian Lillard: Playing for something bigger than him
NBC Sports Northwest | Feb 26