Lillard drives against Parker during NBA basketball game in Portland, Oregon

Video: Watch Damian Lillard go off for 29 against Spurs


That right there is why Damian Lillard has separated himself in the early Rookie of the Year, talk. Well, that and Anthony Davis’ injury, but mostly this.

Lillard was matched up with Tony Parker and went off for 29 points on 11-of-22 shooting. What he shows is a maturity to his game we often don’t see from young point guards, an understanding of when to shoot, when to pull up and reset, when to pass. It’s not just the four years of college that helped with that, it’s years as the primary playmaker for his college team that forced him to make decisions like this. The players are bigger and faster now, but the decision process is similar.

That is a polished and fundamentally sound player (good shooting stroke, great use of changes of speed to create space). He’s going to be a star in this league.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.