With 5:56 left in this game, the New Orleans Pelicans led by 17 points (117-100) and having dominated most of the game, seemed to have this one in their pocket.
But, not for the first time this season, Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard had other ideas.
He erupted for 20 of his season-high 50 points in the fourth quarter, leading the hosts back into the game before icing it at the free-throw line for the 125-124 win.
Damian Lillard (season-high 50 PTS) wins it at the line as the @trailblazers prevail! pic.twitter.com/8Vx93w0vPQ- NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2021
His superhuman performance was one for the record books. Here are some numbers to put it in context:
18: Lillard's contribution in comeback
In the Trail Blazers 25-7 game-sealing run over the final 5:55, Lillard scored or assisted on 18 points.
Scoring 15 of those 18, not surprisingly, there was no shortage of highlight plays from Lillard:
Dame caught 'em guessing. #RipCity- NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) March 17, 2021
Stream: https://t.co/Qw6YqQ11wx pic.twitter.com/UCxOuP7KNF
Single-digit ballgame! #RipCity- NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) March 17, 2021
Stream: https://t.co/Qw6YqQ11wx pic.twitter.com/fnP4zDnxou
Leading into this game, teams leading by 17 or more with 5:56 to go were 236-0. In Pelicans franchise history, this is only the second loss when leading by at least 17 in the final seven minutes.
20: Lillard's shot attempts
It wasn't just the 50 points, but the efficiency. Lillard shot 13-of-20 (65%) from the field, 6-of-13 (46.2%) from beyond the arc, and a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line.
His 50 points are the second-highest points tally on 20 field goal attempts or fewer since 1983 - only Wiile Burton (53 points on 19 attempts) has more.
FROM @EliasSports: Damian Lillard only needed 20 FGA to score 50 points. It's the 3rd-fewest FGA in a 50-point game in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55)- Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) March 17, 2021
1980: Adrian Dantley - 17
1994: Willie Burton - 19
2021: Damian Lillard - 20
12: Lillard's 50-point games
This game ties the Portland franchise superstar with LeBron James for most 50-point games in NBA history with 12,
Lillard's taken 653 regular-season games to reach the tally, far fewer than James' 1158. Lillard's 12 50-point games, a Trail Blazers franchise record, is ten more than the next best of two by Geoff Petrie.
3: Lillard's career 50-point, 10-assist game
This game was Lillard's third performance with at least 50 points and 10 assists, putting him second all-time alongside Russell Westbrook and Tiny Archibald. James Harden leads the way with eight.
Lillard's previous 50p/10a games, both in the last two seasons, came against the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers - both wins as well.
Games with 50+ points and 10+ assists in the last 2 seasons:- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 17, 2021
3 - Damian Lillard
1 - Rest of NBA combined pic.twitter.com/URkytUd7Ku
16,045: Lillard's career points
Coming into this game, the 2013 Rookie of the Year only needed five points to reach the 16,000 career points landmark. Ranking second on the Trail Blazers' all-time scoring charts, he is now only 1,995 away from Clyde Drexler's franchise-leading tally of 18,040.
Reaching 16,000 points along with his career assists tally (4,312) puts him next to some elite company.
Damian Lillard reaches 16,000+ career PTS & 4,000+ career AST in his first nine seasons (2012-2021).- The Athletic (@TheAthletic) March 17, 2021
Only 3 other players have done so in NBA history:
- Oscar Robertson (1960-1969)
- Larry Bird (1979-1988)
- LeBron James (2003-2012)
100%: Lillard's clutch FT% shooting
Prior to this game, Lillard was already the league-leader in total clutch points and with this performance, he only extends his lead at the top with 124 points for the season.
What's more remarkable is his efficiency while scoring those points. In 81 clutch minutes so far this season, Lillard is shooting 35-of-58 (60.3%) from the field, 16-of-30 (53.3%) from beyond the arc, and a perfect 36-of-36 from the free-throw line.
The Blazers' 2nd and 3rd best players are injured for 52 combined games this season.- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 17, 2021
They are 23-16, tied for 5th in a loaded West.
Dame is averaging 31/5/8 on 45/39/94%.
He leads the NBA in clutch points, threes, FG%, 3P% and wins.
This man belongs in the MVP discussion. pic.twitter.com/mmDnRHlCJw
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