Lillard: We Can Still Improve, Make Strides
Stotts On Not Putting Lillard Back In
OAKLAND – It almost happened. Going into the Portland Trail Blazers versus Golden State Warriors game Saturday night at Oracle Arena, Damian Lillard was three three-point makes away from setting a new NBA rookie record for most threes in a season.
The scene was all set for his latest accomplishment. He had the opportunity to break the record in his hometown of Oakland, Calif., amongst hundreds of family and friends.
And conveniently, the player who holds the record is the Warriors own Stephen Curry who knocked down 166 threes during his 2009-10 rookie campaign. He's the same guy who torched the Trail Blazers tonight for 39 points to help his team win 125-98.
But I've digress, it's all about the record.
“It's a pretty cool record to have,” Curry told CSNNW.com. “Obviously our strength is to shoot the ball. As a rookie, you try to get your legs and try to find your way. But to be able to set a mark for other people who haven't been in your position, that's huge.”
Lillard looked as if he was well on his way of reaching that monumental feat. After all, he was 2-for-3 from downtown in the first half, tying Curry's mark. The soon-to-be-Rookie of the Year only needed one more trey.
The third quarter came and Lillard shot two-for-four in that quarter before being subbed out with 1:15 left. Though, no three was taken.
The Warriors were up 18 going into the fourth and Curry – who had 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting at the time – remained in the game and didn't let off of the gas. He was pulling, scoring seven points in a little over four minutes.
Down 18, Head Coach Terry Stotts called for Lillard to sub back in around the 7:45 mark. But a Carl Landry layup and Curry three forced Stotts to call a timeout and he decided that the 23-point deficit with 6:54 remaining in the game was out of reach, thus informing Lillard he would not be brought back in.
“When Dame was going to go into the game, I think it was a 18-point game. It got to 23 with six and a half [left]. There's no point putting Damian in when you're down 23 with six minutes to go in the fourth quarter,” Stotts said.
Stotts was followed up with the question of if he knew Lillard was one three short of breaking the record, would he have gave Lillard some more time. Stotts quickly answered, “No.”
“It would have been good to do it in front of my family,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “A couple of family members mentioned it to me that they was glad that I didn't do it last night [against Utah] so I could do it at home. But it didn't happen. It would have been good to do it here.”
Look, the record is going to be broken and it's most likely going to happen Monday night in Utah. But what a story it would have been if it happened where it all started for Lillard.
In Oaktown with the guy holding the record guarding him.
“I was getting text messages from my auntie about me breaking the streak tonight and honestly during the game, I forgot all about it,” Lillard said. I would have liked to do it here but I'll have another opportunity at it Monday.”
Think of your all-time greatest NBA sharp-shooters: Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Chris Mullin and Ray Allen are some of the best to ever pull the trigger.
But none of those Hall-of-Famers/future Hall-of-Famer have ever accomplished what Lillard is about to accomplish. Again, it would have been nice if it happened tonight, but it's going to happen and when it does, he'll be the top three-point-making rookie the NBA has ever seen.
“It sets a tone for the rest of your career,” Curry said. “I'm happy for him. Records are meant to be broken. For him to stay healthy all year and play as consistent as he has, it's a big deal.”