The Portland Trail Blazers beating the Golden State Warriors at home on Friday wasn’t surprising.
But the way the Trail Blazers won? Yeah, that was stunning.
Portland led 42-31 after the first quarter, 104-79 after the third and won 137-105 to hand Golden State (48-5) its fifth loss of the season. Damian Lillard, a two-time All-Star who did not make the team this year, went off for 51 points, seven assists and six steals. He drilled nine three-pointers and finished without a turnover, becoming the first player in NBA history tor record at least 50 points, five assists and five steals against a defending champion.
Lillard, 25, said he hadn’t scored 50 points in a game since his freshman year of high school
“Damian’s a special player, man,” Portland guard Gerald Henderson told John Jastremski, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He’s a great guy. But more than anything, he plays with a chip on his shoulder. He knows everybody’s watching this game. He knows he’s playing against arguably the best player we have in the league. He was pumped for this game and he brought his best A-game.”
Golden State was riding an 11-game winning streak but had no answers for Lillard and the Trail Blazers. The 137 points were the most the Warriors allowed all season, and the 32-point loss was easily their most lopsided of the year.
Portland (28-27), which started the year 15-24 has won 13 of its last 16 games, including nine of 10. The Trail Blazers are above .500 for the first time since Nov. 8, when they were 4-3.
“We’ve been playing well,” said Henderson, who scored 12 points on Friday. “That’s the thing. If you haven’t been paying attention to us, you wouldn’t know we’ve been playing like this the last month. To play like this against a team like this is pretty special. (It’s a) good gauge to see where we’re at. Not to say that we’re better than Golden State, but to play that well against an elite team is a promising thing.”
Portland shot 52-of-97 (53.6 percent) from the floor while limiting Golden State to 36-of-92 (39.1 percent). The Warriors hit 12 threes and made 21 free throws – and they still lost by 32.
“It’s good to get off to a good start,” Henderson said. “We’ve been playing really well these last three weeks or so, so we’re trying to stay on track.”
Portland, currently seeded seventh in the West, is firmly in the playoff mix despite losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, Robin Lopez to the Knicks and Wes Matthews to the Mavs. The Blazers struggled early on but have certainly found their footing.
“We have a good group,” Henderson said. “We have a group of talented guys. Obviously with the team that was here last year, people were expecting a letdown. But we’re just focusing on the team we have this year. We know we have a lot of really good players and we just come together, I think ,more than anything, especially in the last month or so.”
Portland hosts the Jazz (27-27) on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.