The Trail Blazers trailed the Warriors by three points with just over two minutes remaining.
Everyone knew what that meant.
Damian Lillard hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left. That stood as the game-winner when Lillard took a charge on Draymond Green on the other end, negating a Green bucket and allowing Portland to claim a 108-106 victory Wednesday.
Lillard just continues to accumulate game–winners at an absurd rate. Though this was far from his best game (22 points on 6-of-17 shooting with six assists and five turnovers), he personally outscored Golden State 8-3 down the stretch.
Lillard’s latest clutch performance a day after Lillard revealed the amount of personal tragedy he has faced in the last year-and-a-half.
In 2020, he was the first to discover the dead body of his cousin and personal chef. An aunt died from cancer. A family friend died of COVID-19. And in the early months of 2021, a cousin was killed in West Oakland.
And then last Thursday, the day before the Lakers game, Lillard learned of the shooting deaths of two people in his inner circle. One was a cousin close enough to Lillard to be at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner in Portland in November. The other was like family — the best friend of perhaps his closest cousin, who was among the first family members to move to Portland when Lillard was drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2012.
Lillard is such a steady superstar.
It’s a shame he must put those skills to use amid so much grief. But we can still appreciate how well he’s handling everything.
Lillard said he’s motivated to lift those close to him who are also grieving. Lillard, via Quick:
“I know that my success makes them happy,” Lillard said. “Every game we play, my whole entire family is at home watching. They don’t miss a game. I know that does something positive for them, and that it means something to them, and that’s a major part of our happiness as a family and us being able to continue forward and stay together.”
Lillard, as he has so many times this season, definitely provided joy Wednesday.