Damian Lillard had 60 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds for the Portland Trail Blazers in a win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Lillard was effective and extremely efficient in a performance he described as “simple.”
“I thought I played the game as it should have been played,” Lillard said. “So that’s why it was simple…I didn’t come out like I needed to take them out. It was, take what was there.”
Why Was Scoring 60 Points “Simple” For Damian Lillard?
Lillard was 21-for-29 from the field, including 9 of 15 from three, and 9-for-10 from the line. Ruthless efficiency. He noted that when the Jazz played drop coverage, he took the three, when there were gaps to drive he did, and when they trapped or doubled, he made the correct pass.
The best players in the league read the game and have a solution for every problem set. When those players are elite shooters on a heater like Lillard, he can pile up points in bunches.
Los Angeles Clippers backup point guard John Wall said the game is too easy now. I disagree. If you’re an elite processor of information at game speed, can score on all three levels, the game becomes simple.
Was John Wall Right About Today’s NBA Being Too Easy?
It was on the Jazz to switch up their defensive tactics, which they didn’t. The Jazz are the 26th-ranked team in the NBA in aDRTG so there wasn’t a whole lot they were going to be able to do.
People who love “old school” basketball and lament the prevalence of threes will argue for more physicality to stop scoring outbursts like this. That’s cool if you like football. But this is basketball.
If a player is on a heater, it’s on you individually to play better defense and on your coach to switch up defensive strategies. Jazz head coach Will Hardy.
“Credit to the Blazers,” head coach Will Hardy said. “What started out as a very focused, detailed game for us kind of fell apart in the second quarter from a defensive standpoint. … Some of that is mental errors, some of that is they went 11-for-14 from three in that quarter. Coming out of halftime, again, we didn’t have the necessary focus defensively to get enough stops in this game.”
The Jazz had a 12-point lead early in this game, so it’s not like Lillard just torched them from jump. This was a two-point game at the half.
For whatever reason, the Jazz players didn’t have enough focus or effort on the defensive end of the court and Lillard made them pay.
Lillard’s 60-Piece Second Highest In NBA This Season
Lillard’s 60-piece was the second-highest in the NBA this season, behind Donovan Mitchell‘s 71 on Jan. 3. This was Lillard’s fourth game with 60 or more. He is tied for third all-time with Michael Jordan and James Harden. Kobe Bryant is second with six, and Wilt Chamberlain is first with 32.
Wilt was absurd.
You could infer that scoring is up simply because players are more talented and defense is harder to play. It’s even harder when you aren’t giving the requisite focus or effort. Over the course of an 82-game season, teams put up clunkers, and stars put on epic performances. Sometimes they happen in the same game.