Blazers rookie Damian Lillard continued his impressive start to the season, this time draining the game-winning shot from beyond three-point distance to give his team the 95-94 home victory over the Hornets.
It would have been a shame for Portland to waste its win against the Spurs on Thursday by giving one away against New Orleans, but after seeing a 12-point fourth quarter lead disappear entirely, that was a very real possibility.
It was all tied at 92 with 4.2 seconds remaining, with the Blazers taking the ball out of bounds. Lillard inbounded to Luke Babbitt, who handed it back to Lillard behind the three-point arc as the clock began to wind down.
Lillard used Babbitt’s screen, but Ryan Anderson stepped out to contest, yet somehow Lillard was able to get a sight line to the basket, before launching the shot attempt over Anderson that looked good as soon as it left his hands.
This wasn’t one of Lillard’s better games, as he finished with just 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Anderson led all scorers with 26 points. But the rookie won out on the night’s final meaningful play, and it resulted in the third straight win for the Blazers.
Report: Pistons signing Trey Freeman to partially guaranteed contract
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.
Watch the New York Knicks top 10 plays of last season