Damian Lillard continued his historic scoring streak on Sunday night and landed in the company of none other than Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant
Hours after learning of the death of Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, as well as seven other people on board, the Portland Trail Blazers point guard dropped 50 points in a 139-129 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Lillard scores 50, joins Bryant in history
Lillard went 14 of 23 from the floor, including 8 of 12 from 3-point range, and added 13 assists, six rebounds and a steal in the win. He also made 14 of his 16 free throws.
He became the only player in Blazers history to score at least 50 points in a game three times in a season, per beat reporter Casey Holdahl. Two of those games came within the past week. He scored 61 against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 20 and followed it with 47 against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 23.
That three-game total of 158 points puts him in elite company. It’s the seventh-highest three-game total in NBA history since the merger and three of those belong to Bryant.
Most points in three straight games since the merger:
175 March 2007 Kobe Bryant
169 January 2006 Kobe Bryant
165 March-April 1, 1990 Michael Jordan
164 April 1987 Michael Jordan
163 January 2019 James Harden
160 March 2007 Kobe Bryant
158 January 2020 @Dame_Lillard
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) January 27, 2020
Bryant scored a league-high 175 points over three games in March 2007 and scored at least 50 four consecutive games with totals of 65, 50, 60 and 50 during that streak.
Lillard is averaging 28.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game.
Lillard: Kobe left a hole ‘that can’t be replaced’
Lillard spoke of Bryant before the game while warm-ups were going on around him. The 29-year-old four-time All-Star said he couldn’t believe the news was real.
"There's definitely going to be a hole in this game going forward that can't be replaced." pic.twitter.com/IrTIQvZUhm
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 27, 2020
“We’re losing the great Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant. His impact on the game, players, coaches, everybody individually is going to be missed. It can’t be replaced. There’s definitely going to be a hole in this game going forward that can’t be replaced.”
Lillard said he comes from many different positions in terms of his relationship to Bryant, a spot most late 20-somethings in the game today understand. He grew up a fan of the 20-year Lakers superstar, but also played him in the younger years and became close with him from a mentee standpoint.
He said he met Bryant at his first All-Star game in 2014 and they spent a lot of the time on the bench together. Bryant encouraged Lillard to keep in touch, and though the younger player was nervous to reach out, he did. He said he enjoyed Bryant’s accessibility.
“As a friend and somebody that I spoke to, I always would hit him up, you know, I would hit Kobe, like whatchu thinka bout this, or whatchu think about that, how you think I should handle [this]? You know just for advice and an opinion I really respected. Somebody that I really respected.”
Lillard: 1st game was vs. Kobe
Lillard was one of the many players who spoke about Bryant after the game as well. His first game was against the Lakers on Halloween night in 2012. Lillard scored 23 points in the 10-point victory. Kobe scored 30.
Damian Lillard's first NBA game was against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
"I don't really get nervous, I don't really get butterflies but I walked on the court & I was like, that's Kobe over there." @Dame_Lillard pic.twitter.com/SxBPkX53Qb
— AJ McCord (@AJ_McCord) January 27, 2020
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