Lillard against the world

The point guard sets another exhibition (44) to beat the Kings, who are left shivering. Spectacular Kanter and insufficient game from Fox.


There are two love stories: Romeo and Juliet and Lillard's with the Blazers. Regardless of whether the point guard ends up being champion during his career, which is hard to imagine if he ends his days in the Oregon franchise, there are few recent examples of a compromise of his style. No longer because it remains faithful to some colors within a competition, the NBA, which is far from European values and business prevails over commitment, as understood in, for example, Spain, and this without judging what they are. the appropriate values. Nor because he continues to belong, for the ninth consecutive year, to the team that drafted him. But yes, perhaps, for staying among their ranks knowing that he is not going to be a champion with a low ceiling project and small aspirations, a market that played two NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992 but has not returned to such high levels since then, an entity that needs people like Lillard to be on the map and that remains in a relative elite thanks to its individual prowess, its game until exhaustion and its various heroics, without changing its speech or feigning, in full era of empowered players, with heading to destinations where the wind blows more favorably.

The excuse of money (Lillard will collect 31 million this season and 39, 42, 45 and 48 in the next four) may also be valid within European thinking, but someone of his level could have charged similar figures in any other team, taking into account that he is on his way to 31 years and is not about a veteran who is giving his last blows. Of course, the latter is quite clear, as Lillard averaged 30 points and 8 assists per game last year, putting the Blazers in the playoffs in the bubble after a time trial in which a comeback was achieved by grace of the leader. supreme. This season, the point guard has slightly lowered his benefits, but remains in the numbers of an MVP who does not seem to be going to win (due to the franchise he is in and the idiosyncrasy of the League itself), but which he legitimately opts for: 29.4 points, more than 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 37.8% in triples (last year he exceeded 40%), in just under 36 minutes of play, boosted by a squad that has not had as many injuries ( some yes), like last year, when the star had to stay on track an enormous amount of time to help his team keep adding.

Against the Kings, Lillard posted his fourth game of the season above 40 points. Specifically, he went to 44, a supreme performance that he completed with 7 assists and with great shooting series: 13 of 26 in field goals and 8 of 15 in triples, without failure from the personnel (10 of 10) and with, attention , no loss. Lillard scored 15 points in the fourth period, which the Blazers started with a deficit of three points, and did so with 5-of-7 shooting, including 3 3-pointers on 5 attempts. In other words, exhibition. And not only that, but the point guard improves whenever the game is tight, one of the reasons that allow his team to be added. Outside of clutch time (last five minutes of the game with a difference of five points or less), their percentages are 43.1% in field shots, 36.5% in triples and 92.2% in free throws. . Within clutch time, his stats become video game: 61.4% + 60% + 100%. Something amazing that allows Terry Stotts's team to come out of ignominious situations alive and smile before the All Star break. Damian Lillard will, of course, go to.The power of Enes Kanter

The other great protagonist of the match was Enes Kanter, who had one of the best performances of the season. A cool guy, the center is famous for having eternal defensive problems that he partially solved two seasons ago, when he was forced to take the starting position after the injury of Jusuf Nurkic, precisely at a time when he was in Portland, place he has returned to after a year on leave with the Celtics. This season, Nurkic has fallen again and the Turk, again a starter, averages just under 12 points and 12 rebounds per game, great numbers. And from January 25 until now, his statistics are 12.9 + 13.5, with 56.3% in field goals and in approximately 30 minutes of play. Against Sacramento, Kanter has added 22 points, 21 rebounds and a +13 with him on the court, the best +/- of the entire match. And he has scored 11 of his 15 pitches, not throwing once from the personal, being the receiver of the last pass or catching offensive rebounds, one of his best specialties.

In the Kings, little thing. They came from beating the Lakers and they need more wins, but they don't give one and lose in too many tied finals. De'Aaron Fox had a huge performance, with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 12 assists, but not enough for a team that failed again in the final minutes. Six players over ten, collaborative play ... but slate problems and a Luke Walton who is still on the bench despite the eternal excesses, which continue to happen without shame. And the Blazers? They are the fourth worst defense in the West, they have Nurkic and McCollum offside, the third worst defensive rating, the tenth worst net rating ... but they are 21-14, they are fifth in the Western Conference just two wins behind. the Clippers (and ahead of Denver, Spurs, Mavs, Warriors ...) and they have achieved a certain regularity within an NBA, this season, in which nobody has it. And all thanks to, of course, a being from another planet named Damian Lillard. Legend.

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