When you have a matchup like Kyrie Irving versus Damian Lillard, you know it will never disappoint.
These are two of the premier bucket-getting point guards in the NBA. They're both entertaining, cold-blooded, clutch, gifted scorers who happened to share the All-NBA Second Team backcourt last season.
On most nights, Lillard going for a career-high 60 points would get the job done. But against a closer like Irving, it wasn't enough as the Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Brooklyn Nets 119-115.
We could go through and break down the play-by-play of how Lillard's career-game somehow came up short, but instead, lets talk about what makes these two performances so special.
Damian Lillard's 60 points
Dame dropped a career and franchise-high 60 PTS in Portland 💪#RipCity pic.twitter.com/D9w3ViWOfL- NBA TV (@NBATV) November 9, 2019
A career-high 60 points.
We knew it was going to be one of those nights for Lillard when he dropped 26 points in the first half. He assured it would be one of those nights when he scored 18 points in the third quarter alone. Taking 44 points into the fourth quarter shooting an efficient 14-for-23 from the field, 6-for-12 from 3-point range and 10-for-10 from the free throw line - yet his team trailing by three points - we knew we were in for a treat in the fourth quarter.
Lillard scored 16 points in the final quarter, doing everything he could to try and carry Portland to victory.
We've seen Dame put together dominant performances like this time and time again. He has 18 40-point games, six 50-point games and now, one 60-point game in his impressive eight-year career.
There are some games where the entire contest is "Dame Time" and this was one of those outings.
He finished the contest with 60 points (19-33 FG, 7-16 3PT, 15-15 FT), five assists and four rebounds.
This man played 41 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back where he played 38 minutes in a hard-fought loss to a stout defensive team in the LA Clippers on the front end. He left everything he had on the court, coming up just short. After the game, there were no smiles from the All-Star guard. He didn't have a "moral victory" look on his face after posting the highest scoring total of his career. He was disappointed with the final result, no matter how his individual performance was.
There aren't many players in the NBA that would be genuinely upset after scoring 60 points and that's what makes Lillard so special as a leader, putting the team's outcome first over his personal accolades.
The Trail Blazers are in desperate need to get back on track, dropping to 3-6 losing after their fourth-consecutive game.
Kyrie Irving's clutch buckets
Now, on to the winning team.
Sure, Lillard put up 60 points to Kyrie Irving's 33 points, and in fact, Irving wasn't even his team's leading scorer as Spencer Dinwiddie poured in 34 points off the bench! But it didn't matter how hot Lillard's hand was, and it didn't matter the Kyrie wasn't even the best scorer on his team in this one.
When it came down to the most important possessions of this game, the ball was in Irving's hands, and he stepped up as he does so often in the clutch.
With the game tied at 103 and under five minutes remaining, Irving led the charge on the run that sealed the game for the Nets. He assisted a Joe Harris 3-pointer then got to the rim for a tough and-1 finish to give his team a six-point lead with three minutes to go. To close out what became a 12-3 run that decided the outcome, Irving got to his favourite spot on the floor to bury a dagger 3-pointer to put his team up by 10 points, all but finishing Lillard's hopes of a comeback win.
Kyrie is lethal from this spot on the court. pic.twitter.com/VflM6zMaXX- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 9, 2019
Lillard didn't give up scoring seven-straight points to make things interesting, but Irving, again, came up with a clutch bucket to secure a win.
Kyrie uses the window to put the @BrooklynNets up 5! #WeGoHard 117#RipCity 112- NBA (@NBA) November 9, 2019
10.4 to play: https://t.co/BoUFKjEQgM pic.twitter.com/iy1yKg367K
He finished with 33 points (12-27 FG, 4-8 3PT, 5-5 FT), six assists, three rebounds, one steal and one block as the Nets have won two in a row to get back to .500 at 4-4. Their mediocre record is no reflection of Irving's efforts, whose 31.9 points ranks third in the league to go with 7.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game.