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Lillard’s 51 leads Blazers past mighty Warriors

Blazers hand defending NBA champs their fifth loss of the season

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer
Published: February 19, 2016, 10:39pm

PORTLAND — The Blazers have an intro video intro that looks like a drugged up version of the movie “Drive” with Ryan Gosling, with images of players becoming distorted over views of Portland freeways, which played prior to Friday night’s game.

With that intro in mind, Damian Lillard played the part of Gosling, driving his team and their fans on a journey through the looking glass and into a Blazers wonderland, pummeling the mighty Warriors until they couldn’t fight anymore.

Lillard had a career-high 51 points, a career-high six steals, seven assists and no turnovers, besting reigning MVP Stephen Curry and the now 48-5 Golden State Warriors, 137-105.

The Warriors waved the white flag with over seven minutes left in the game and the end result was so comical that Chris Kaman was chucking step-back 3’s to his heart’s content.

The video wasn’t the only thing that felt like an out of body experience, as Portland’s hero didn’t even realize the thrashing he put on the defending champs until it was too late. And then he added a little bit more for good measure after the Warriors had given up.

“Tonight everybody was going crazy and I looked up there myself like, man,” Lillard said. “I really didn’t remember when I went from 30 to 40.”

After the Blazers lost the last meeting 128-108 CJ McCollum, the journalism major whose known to turn a phrase or two, called the Warriors performance “Stephortless.”

Tonight, he came up with a new phrase.

“Angry Dame, that was an angry man out there tonight,” McCollum said.  “We need him to be aggressive, assertive, play with a chip on his shoulder. He carried us tonight, he defended, he didn’t turn the ball over. He played like an All-Star tonight. The way he played was angry. Damegry.”

“He got into the zone twice,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t know how many points he had in the second half, but it seemed like every spurt–well, he had a lot of spurts–but he was involved in three big ones. At the end, it was just ridiculous.”

Golden State’s coach thought Portland’s aggression and focus wasn’t the only thing that was Warriors-like.

“He was phenomenal,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Lillard. “He looked like Steph Curry out there.”

But one thing did carry over from the last meeting between the two teams and that was the excellent play of Lillard, going toe-to-toe with the player he’s most often compared.

Lillard had 17 points and five assists in the first quarter, ending the quarter with a flurry of baskets against Curry, who had 16 points and four assists after the first quarter.

Portland led 42-31 after the first quarter and while they got to within four points in the second quarter, they never really made it a game.

“Their backcourt is like our backcourt,” Kerr said before laying into his team for sloppy play and what he thought was a lack of competitive fire after the Blazers lead got so big. “They can just explode.”

The only question after halftime was whether the Blazers could keep the playing at the Warriors’ frantic pace.

The Blazers, at least tonight, had the skills to have their rig keep up with the Warriors Formula 1 machine.

The Warriors’ ball movement usually means instant death for the Warriors opponents, but tonight the casualties were the Warriors themselves.

The Warriors had 13 of their 20 turnovers in the third quarter as Lillard continued his duel with Curry.

“When you play a team as good as Golden State you need to be in tune every possession because if not those are lay-ups or threes,” Stotts said. “I thought our alertness off the ball against their splits, that’s what good defensive teams have to do against good teams.”

“This is a good team,” Kerr said of the Blazers, who are in sole possession of 7th place in the West.

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Columbian Trail Blazers Writer