Dan Woike asked NBA players to tell us about the best game in their basketball career. This week: Damian Lillard.
April 23, 2019: Trail Blazers 118, Thunder 115
50 points, 17-33 FGs, 10-18 3FGs, seven rebounds, six assists, three steals
In the middle of a sea of bodies, Portland‘s All-Star guard looked up and stared at the cameras, creating a perfect moment for the NBA’s digital age. Lillard had just made a shot that ended Oklahoma City’s season, a shot that would echo into the summer when the Thunder’s top two players would be traded. After an emotional series that included a lot of trash talk, largely from Russell Westbrook, Lillard got that final moment and a chance to wave goodbye as the Trail Blazers advanced in the playoff thanks to his best game ever.
“That was the best one I’ve ever played just because it was a big game and C.J. [McCollum] was in foul trouble all game. I had 50, hit the game-winner. And it was a big-time matchup. It was the situation, coming up big with CJ’s foul trouble, having 50, hitting that shot in the playoffs, the wave, all of it just made it a real moment. The first time I did that, hit a walk-off game winner, it was a crazy feeling. This one? It was crazy too. But this one was a different feeling. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I was shaking almost because it was so crazy that it was happening again in such a big situation where there had been so much back and forth and talk about the series. It just felt crazy. You feel the reaction. It’s just not as loud as when you watch it. You hear it, but it’s almost like background noise when you’re in the middle of it. When it’s happening, you’re in it. But when you see the footage ... it’s so much more chaotic.”