Damian Lillard came through with the best game of his career against his hometown team.
Lillard scored a career-high 51 points, and had seven assists, six steals and no turnovers to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a stunningly dominant 137-105 win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Lillard, who is from Oakland, California. “Especially against the best team in the league. I haven’t scored 50 since ninth grade.”
Golden State coach Steve Kerr paid Lillard the ultimate compliment for today’s point guard.
“He was phenomenal,” Kerr said. “He looked like Steph Curry out there.”
Curry, last season’s MVP, led the Warriors with 31 points and five assists. Draymond Green added 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, but also had nine turnovers as Golden State snapped its 11-game winning streak and saw its quest for the best regular season record in NBA history hit a serious speed bump.
“This is the NBA, so there’s going to be nights where the other team gets hot,” Kerr said. “I’m OK with the other team making shots. What I’m not OK with is losing our poise in the third quarter.”
The 137 points were the most by a Golden State opponent this season, and the 32-point margin of defeat the Warriors’ most lopsided loss.
“We weren’t as focused as we should be,” said the Warriors’ Klay Thompson, who had 23 points.
Said Curry: “We just lost our composure when it comes to how we controlled our possessions. That usually doesn’t happen.”
Lost in the eye-popping offensive performance by Lillard and the Blazers was a stifling defensive effort throughout the game, but especially in the third quarter when they forced Golden State into 13 of its 20 turnovers.
“I couldn’t be more happy with our effort defensively,” Lillard said. “I think that’s what allowed us to get out and play at a fast pace and move the ball the way we did tonight.”
Portland had 28 assists on 52 field goals against only 13 turnovers as the Blazers played a more up-tempo game than fans are used to seeing.
Meanwhile the Warriors must regroup as they try to better the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who hold the record for wins in a season with 72.