Portland Trail Blazers

This Date in NBA History (Aug. 11): Damian Lillard's explosion ties career-high 61, punches Trail Blazers into Play-In Tournament

On Aug. 11, 2020, Damian Lillard exploded for 61 points - tying his career high - in a 134-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

The herculean performance, a couple of days after dropping 51 against the Philadelphia 76ers, helped the Portland Trail Blazers book a spot in the first-ever Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference.

Also finishing with eight assists and five rebounds while shooting a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line in 41 minutes, the guard became the first player in franchise history and 12th in NBA history to register back-to-back 50-point games. He also rose to eighth all-time for most career 50-point games with 11.

This 60-point game was the third of Lillard's career, becoming the sixth player in NBA history to have at least three 60-point games. With all of his three coming in the 2019-20 season, he became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain (15 in 1961-62, nine in 1962-63) to have at least three 60-point games in a single season.

In a competitive game that saw 10 lead changes and 14 ties, Lillard delivered for his team when it mattered the most. He scored or assisted on 30 of Portland's 36 fourth-quarter points

This big-time performance by Lillard was one of multiple in the bubble. In fact, four of his 11 highest scoring games from the 2019-20 season came in the eight seeding games.

Over the course of the seeding games, he averaged 37.6 points and 9.6 assists while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers earned him the recognition of KIA NBA Player of the Seeding Games.

August is generally the quietest month of the year on the NBA calendar but not in 2020, a year affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the NBA season was suspended on March 11 and returned in July in a bubble in Orlando.

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