Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has been knocking down clutch shots since he entered the NBA as the sixth overall pick in 2012. A cold-blooded assassin, the former Weber State standout has snatched the hearts of countless opponents, and the shots keep coming.
In this piece, we’ll rank the top-five clutch shots that Lillard has buried throughout his career. It must be noted that he has way more than five such buckets to his credit. These, however, are the ones that seem to have stung the most.
5. Rookie shine
Even as a rookie, it quickly became evident that Damian Lillard would go on to become one of the best point guards in the league.
In December 2012, Portland was serving as hosts to the Hornets, who were then based in New Orleans. Lillard wasn’t necessarily the star on this night, but a late shot proved that he would be a difference-maker for the Blazers.
With 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied at 92 points apiece, Lillard set himself up on the sideline as the inbounds passer. He tossed the ball in, but it quickly came right back to him. It was a designed screen at the 3-point line, and Dame delivered:
4. A killer in Cleveland
Whether he’s at home or on the road, Damian Lillard can knock it down in your eye. The Cleveland Cavaliers learned this lesson in the closing seconds of a regular-season game in December 2013.
It was the first post-LeBron James era for the Cavs, and Kyrie Irving was becoming the team’s leading man. His teammate, Alonzo Gee, was given the unenviable task of guarding Lillard on what proved to be the final possession of the game.
Lillard received an inbounds pass with 6.4 seconds showing on the clock. For whatever reason, Gee gave Lillard way too much space beyond the arc. In fact, Dame actually took a few steps toward Gee before rising up for his shot attempt.
Gee’s hand was late to rise in defense, and Lillard buried the shot. At that time, it was his fourth game-winning shot:
3. Legendary company
This entry of clutch shots from Damian Lillard is a new one, and it placed his name alongside one of the NBA’s all-time greats.
Lillard and the Blazers faced off against the Dallas Mavericks inside the Disney bubble complex. It was an important game, with Portland fighting for its playoff life.
Thanks in large part to a 61-point effort from Dame, the Blazers managed to secure a 134-131 victory over the Mavs to move into the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
Simply put, Lillard was outstanding in this game. With just over a minute left on the clock, he rose up from well beyond the 3-point line to tie the game at 130. Be it by fate or skill, the shot went through the net after bouncing high off the rim:
THIS DAME GUY IS PRETTY GOOD HUH pic.twitter.com/z2YeDGENNj
It gave him 61 points on the night, matching a career-high mark. After the game, Dame sent a message:
“Put some respect on my f—ing name,” Lillard said over and over again as teammates and coaches came to congratulate their hero, via ESPN.
It was Lillard’s third 60-plus-point game of the season. The 30-year-old guard joins Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in league history with three or more 60-point games in one season. According to ESPN, Chamberlain had 15 in 1961-62 and nine in 1962-63.
2. Rocket Man
For this outstanding shot from Damian Lillard, we’ll go back to the first round of the 2014 Western Conference Playoffs. Portland held a 3-2 advantage in its series against the Houston Rockets, and the two sides were squaring off inside the Moda Center.
Game 6 was tightly contested. In fact, there was only a two-point differential with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation. The matchup featured 16 lead changes and 14 ties. And furthermore, neither team led by more than four points in the fourth.
The Trail Blazers, who were trailing by two, drew up a nice inbounds play for Lillard. He moseyed in place at the opposite side of the court for a moment, lulling his defenders into a false sense of security. Then, just as the referee started counting down the inbounds timer, the five-time All-Star exploded around two perimeter screens, freeing himself for just enough time to receive a pass from Nicolas Batum.
Lillard rose up and proceeded to knock down what he would later call “the biggest shot” of his life. The play was reviewed as a formality, but it stood as called:
1. Waving goodbye
Damian Lillard has always been known as a perimeter threat, but just how far out does one need to guard him? As Paul George found out in the first round of the 2019 Western Conference Playoffs, Dame can bury a shot from nearly anywhere on the court.
It was Game 5 and the clock was winding down. With George defending him, Lillard rose up from well beyond the 3-point line to sink the biggest shot of his career, sending Oklahoma City home at the buzzer in heartbreaking fashion.
Lillard finished this game with a whopping 50 points on 10 3-pointers (second-most triples in a playoff game). After his shot fell, he smugly waved goodbye to his opponents:
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 24, 2019
George felt that it was a bad shot, but that doesn’t matter much:
“I mean, it was a bad shot,” George grumbled, via NBC Sports. “I don’t care what anybody says, that’s a bad shot.”
Someone pass the salt.
Cool, calm and collected, Damian Lillard thrives in clutch moments. These entries portray just a few of the outstanding moments he has given hoops fans over the course of his career. Let’s see what sort of shots he knocks down in the future.