Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had no time to mess around, not this time. Only hours after botching the potential game-winning free throws against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, “Dame Time” was back to work with a tantalizing 51-point effort to get back in the winning column.
It was the type of outing Lillard is used to putting up after a disappointing night, and the feeling in the air was proven true after he scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Blazers right within a half-game of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
George and Patrick Beverley, who did not play against the Blazers, took to trolling Lillard for missing two clutch free throws late in the game that would have given the Blazers a one-point lead with 18.6 seconds left. The argument escalated to the mean streets of social media, where George took digs at Lillard for coming short:
The scene on Instagram 🍿 👀 pic.twitter.com/wk4JuD5af7
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 8, 2020
Lillard didn’t back down on social media, and he didn’t give them much credit in the postgame media session. George had just waved a la Lillard in 2019 playoffs, but the Blazers dynamo knew it didn’t hold much weight:
“PG did the wave because he also was surprised [about the missed free throws] because he experienced being waved at last year,” said Damian Lillard after the game, per ESPN — noting his popular wave at George and the Thunder after eliminating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the first round.
“Asking me about Patrick Beverley, who I sent him home before at the end of a game. Paul George is a guy sent home by me last year in the playoffs, so they know. The reason they reacting like that is because of what they expecting from me, which is a sign of respect, and it just shows what I have done at a high clip more times than not. I am not offended by it.
“If anything, it should just tell you how much it hurt them to go through what I put them through in those situations previously.”
The war between the two wasn’t left on the court, as Lillard’s sister LaNae and George’s longtime girlfriend Daniela Rajic got into it, getting the whole situation much messier than anticipated:
Damian Lillard’s sister calls Paul George’s girlfriend a stripper
Paul George’s girlfriend calls Damian Lillard’s sister a cow
This just took a wild turn
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 9, 2020
All of this hoopla set the stage for a showtime performance waiting to happen. Damian Lillard is notorious for bouncing back from poor outings, and this back-to-back was the perfect opportunity to unleash on the Philadelphia 76ers, who were a Joel Embiid short after six minutes of regulation.
The Oakland native poured in 18 of his 51 points in the fourth quarter, including this nifty sequence that included a dunk off a backdoor cut, a 4-point play, and a 3-pointer from deep to give the Blazers the edge. Even Jusuf Nurkic chipped in to talk about it, making reference to George calling Lillard’s deep bomb in the first round “a bad shot.”
Babo stop taking bad shots 🤣🤣 https://t.co/HYHsEIgxKY
— Jusuf Nurkić (@bosnianbeast27) August 10, 2020
This is the type of bombastic performance that fans have come to expect from Lillard after subpar outings.
Meanwhile, in Clipper land, George sat out to rest and Los Angeles didn’t have enough to beat the Brooklyn Nets, even after 39 points from Kawhi Leonard.
Well, well, well, how the turntables …
The fact that Patrick Beverley and Paul George had the audacity to take shots at Lillard comes from not only the sting of losing a playoff series to him but knowing they likely won’t have to face him again this year.
Even in the best of scenarios, the Blazers are poised to face the top-seeded Lakers in the first round. The Clippers will likely avoid a matchup against the Blazers unless both teams get deep in the playoffs. Measuring a squeaker win in the regular season as the last laugh compared to ending a team’s season in poster-like fashion is one not worth making.
Paul George and Patrick Beverley will have to let that beef marinate some more until next season, but rest assured Damian Lillard will bring the grill the next time these two teams meet.