Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard dropped 50 points and dished out 10 assists to help his team overcome a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes and beat the New Orleans Pelicans 125-124. The Pelicans had a three-point lead with 7.2 seconds to go and had a chance to put the game away but Brandon Ingram missed two free throws.
"After he missed the two free throws, I was like, 'I'm sending this to overtime.' " Lillard said, per ESPN. Blazers guard CJ McCollum was confident Lillard would lead the team to a win. "Once the guy went to the line and missed the free throws and once we had that scramble on the inbounds, I knew if we got the ball back that he was going to win it, and he did it," said Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who returned Tuesday after having not played since Jan.
Lillard admitted a bit of luck was on their side
"We needed some things to go our way," Lillard said of the comeback. "B.I. misses two free throws. Then we come down back on the defensive end and on the inbounds pass, they fumble it out of bounds.
So some things had to go our way on top of us putting stops together and making timely plays on defense and offense." Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts was thrilled with the way his team fought back in the final six minutes.
"You don't make a comeback like that if you don't play well on both ends," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "You have to play good defense for sure. There was some desperation, obviously. Can we sustain that level of desperation for 48 minutes? I don't know.
Certainly that was a big part of it." Lillard wants his team to defend better. "When we put it together mentally and we commit to that and become a better defensive team, that's when we'll level up overall.
But we keep talking about it. We have to defend better and be consistent and all these things but, I mean, we gotta do it. That's what it comes down to. It's as simple as that," Lillard said. "We gotta come out here and be committed to it and hold ourselves to that.
As long as we don't do that, we'll win games and be who we've always been, but until we decide to take that step as a group ... that's when we'll look at games and be like, 'We won that game by 15,' or 'We won that game by 18.'
People will expect a great effort from us in the playoffs. I think that's when the true respect will come when we can sustain a certain level defensively."