After three quarters, the Portland Trail Blazers, in their penultimate game before the break, were leading 82-80 against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Portland's All-Star Damian Lillard was struggling early. He only managed 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 from distance while being responsible for five of the team's nine turnovers heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter, 'Dame Time' to be precise, was a different story.
'Dame Time' on both ends
With 2:15 left in the game, Golden State led 103-100 and that's when Lillard took over. He scored the team's final eight points, single-handedly outscoring the Warriors 8-3 over the remaining time.
The 6'2" guard out of Weber State has made hitting clutch game-winning shots a habit but in this one, he channeled 'Dame Time' on both ends of the floor.
First, after grabbing the rebound with 26.0 seconds remaining with the Trail Blazers down 106-105, he knocked down a step-back 3-pointer over Kent Bazemore to take the hosts ahead 108-106.
(2/2) pic.twitter.com/XJDAYQrrel- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 4, 2021
Then, on the ensuing Warriors possession, he stepped in front of Draymond Green and drew the charge - his sixth of the season.
The offensive foul call on Green pretty much sealed it with the Warriors not having anymore timeout but they still had a slim chance when Robert Covington missed both of his two free-throws. However, Damion Lee's prayer didn't come close.
Lillard finished the game with 22, taking his clutch points tally to 92 - second-best in the league so far this season.
Damian Lillard in the clutch this season:- StatMuse (@statmuse) March 4, 2021
92 PTS (2nd)
61.4 FG% (1st, min 20 att)
60.0 3P% (1st, min 15 att)
100 FT% (1st)
72.2 W% (3rd)
What time is it? pic.twitter.com/slk9KTjqrR
"Forget the shots. That charge [Dame] took, that defensive play that he gave his body up for? That's a winning play," Carmelo Anthony said of Lillard said postgame . That's what winning players do, that's what winning teams do."
Balanced Blazers withstand Curry's early onslaught
Although Lillard struggled early, the rest of the team collectively kept them in the game as Stephen Curry caught fire early.
Steph drops 16 on 6-9 shooting in the 1Q on ESPN! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/it6uZQSuht- NBA (@NBA) March 4, 2021
Curry scored 16 in the first and had 23 at halftime with no other player scoring more than seven.
The Blazers were able to keep it competitive by sharing the load. Off the bench, Carmelo Anthony scored 16 of his 22 points in the first three quarters while the duo of Rodney Hood and Anfernee Simmons scored 10 of their 13 in the first three quarters.
we could watch this all day long pic.twitter.com/29QT1d72ym- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 4, 2021
For the game, Enes Kanter finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds while stat-sheet stuffers Gary Trent Jr. (four rebounds, three assists) and Robert Covington (nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals) combined for 30 points.
If (Melo) doesn't have that type of night, DJ isn't hitting shots, and GT and guys aren't making shots to make them at least think about what's happening when I get the ball out, we don't win this game." - Lillard said postgame.
Meanwhile, Curry finished with a game-high 35 with no other player scoring more than 14.
Andrew Wiggins finished with 14, Kent Bazemore had 12 and Damion Lee recorded 10. Draymond Green was the team's second-best contributor with five points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, and three steals.
Both teams have got one more game left before the break. The Trail Blazers stay at home and host the Kings while the Warriors travel to Phoenix.
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