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NBA Players Were in Awe of Damian Lillard’s Clutch Game 5


“This is a spiritual experience”

Even though it came in a losing effort in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series, Damian Lillard’s performance on Tuesday night against the Nuggets will be talked about for years.

The box score stats speak for themselves. He poured in 55 points on 17-of-24 shooting and hit an NBA playoff record 12 threes (on just 17 attempts). But what made Dame’s night so special was the way he came through in the clutch. He forced overtime with a step-back three over Michael Porter Jr. and then sent the game to a second OT with two more step-back threes.

It was stunning to witness. Lillard carried his team in crunch time. He had 17 of the 19 points Portland scored in the 10 extra minutes. Each of the three audacious shots above would have been one of the best highlights of this postseason on their own. But to nail all three of them? That’s outrageous.

You know Lillard was on another level because his fellow NBA players took to social media to share how incredulous they were. Kevin Durant was especially astonished. He fired off three increasingly bewildered tweets in a three-minute span.

The rest of the NBA was in agreement.

Lillard has a tendency to take his game to another level in the playoffs. His “bad shot” over Paul George in 2019 is one of the defining NBA highlights of the previous decade. Unfortunately for Dame, his teams haven’t been able to get over the hump. Lillard’s career would be viewed very differently if he was able to reach the Finals, but now facing elimination against Denver, Lillard is facing an uphill climb to just get the Blazers into the second round. 

The best of SI

No matter how the Blazers’ playoff run ends, Damian Lillard is a winner. … Naomi Osaka was right to put her wellbeing first, but press conferences are also an important part of sports. … The best NBA prospects who are returning to school next season. … CONMEBOL made a terrible decision in moving the Copa America to Brazil

Around the sports world

The Giants will be the first MLB team to wear Pride colors on their uniforms. … Marcus Stroman called out Diamondbacks announcer Bob Brenly’s “racist undertones” after a comment about his du-rag. … Petra Kvitova was forced to pull out of the French Open after injuring her ankle during a press conference. … Edmonton’s CFL team, which dropped “Eskimos” around the same time of the Washington Football Team’s name change, has a new nickname

An underrated moment from the Dame game

Lost in all the Dame hysteria was this beauty from Jokić

A half-court Euro step is just ridiculous

Excellent work

A manager would be thrown in jail today for having a reliever appear in 106 games

The Angels have Trout, Ohtani and a 22-year-old prospect who can golf home runs out of the park

They’d probably develop into better players if they weren’t starving

The arm is great but let’s not overlook the hair

Oops. (Chelsea actually won.)

Not sports

A seven-year-old boy from Jacksonville swam for an hour to get help for his dad and sister after a boating mishap. … A 17-year-old California girl confronted a bear that threatened her dogs and it was all caught on video.

How is this real?

A city in Lithuania installed a live “portal” that connects people to a city in Poland

A good song

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