Damian Lillard to the rescue.
All of the Trail Blazers superstar's eight fourth-quarter points came in the final four minutes of the game. He was responsible for eight of the team's final nine points including the game-winning free-throws which sealed the team's 20-point comeback.
He finished season-high tallies of 40 points and 13 assists while not committing a single turnover, making him the first player in NBA history to record 40 and 13 with zero turnovers. But he wasn't alone.
Much like the last couple of seasons, his backcourt mate CJ McCollum was balling too. He recorded 28 points and 10 assists - his second double-double of the season, making this the first game that both Lillard and McCollum have finished with 10 assists in the same game.
In fact, they are the first Blazers duo to record at least 25 points and 10 points since 1992.
Damian Lillard (40 PTS, 13 AST) and CJ McCollum (28 PTS, 10 AST) are the first @trailblazers duo with 25+ PTS and 10+ AST in a game since Clyde Drexler (34 PTS, 12 AST) and Terry Porter (25 PTS, 10 AST) on March 6, 1992. pic.twitter.com/IgSlxMFyx0- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 14, 2021
While Lillard sealed it late, the duo did the damage together in the team's comeback rally. Over the final 7:20 of the first half, Lillard and McCollum scored 20 of the team's 27 points as they outscored the Kings by 17 (27-10) to reduce a 20-point lead to just three at the half.
H O W pic.twitter.com/VhBQKUAAOd- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 14, 2021
Including their assists, they were responsible for 25 of the team's 27 points in that period.
🚨 HALF COURT LOB 🚨 pic.twitter.com/jTMRjf4SP1- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 14, 2021
Three other Blazers scored in double figures as they knocked down 23 3-pointers, tying their franchise record. Their opponents buried 19 from beyond the arc, making this game's 42 3-pointers the most in the NBA this season and the second-most in NBA history.
For the Kings, six players scored in double figures. Buddy Hield knocked down eight 3-pointers en route to 26, while De'Aaron Fox finished with 29 points, six rebounds and six assists. However, the game eventually slipped away from the hosts as they suffered their seventh loss in the last 10 games after starting the season 2-0.
Lillard & CJ taking turns
This game's heroics from Portland's backcourt isn't the first time they have rescued the team this season. Of the four non-blowout wins for the Trail Blazers, Lillard and McCollum have come up big in each - two times each.
In the team's first win of the season, McCollum nailed his 9th triple of the game - the dagger - against the Rockets. He finished with 44 that game.
A couple of days later, Lillard took over against the Lakers. He scored eight and was responsible for 12 of the team's last 15 points as they outscored the Lakers by seven in the final five minutes to win the game.
Then, in the New Year, McCollum came up clutch once again when he nailed the dagger against the Toronto Raptors.
CJ McCollum handles, gets to his spot, and puts Portland ahead for good!- NBA (@NBA) January 12, 2021
Final:@Raptors 111@trailblazers 112 pic.twitter.com/11fm9eWjM8
Can Portland carry the momentum forward?
Ever since the team invested in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for the future, the Portland Trail Blazers have ranked among the bottom 15 teams in the league in defensive rating in four of the five full seasons,
Despite making a concentrated effort in strengthening their roster on that end of the floor this past offseason by signing players like Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr., it's not looking great through the first 11 games as the team's defensive rating ranks 24th in the league.
However, in the last four games - all wins, the team's defensive rating is much better at 14th.
Great positives for the team to carry into a huge seven-game homestand. Only two of the six opponents in the Pacers and Spurs have a record better than .500. So, it would be safe to expect the Trail Blazers to rack up more wins.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.