NBA: Trail Blazers’ Lillard named MVP of restart

Published August 16, 2020, 2:02 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers smiles and celebrates after the Western Conference Play in Game against the Memphis Grizzlies on August 15, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at The Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports. (Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE via Getty Images / AFP)

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who averaged a league-leading 37.6 points in eight seeding games, has been named the top player of the NBA’s restart in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Lillard recorded 30 points and 16 assists against Boston on August 2, matching his career high for assists and logging his first of three seeding games with at least 30 points and 10 assists.

On August 6 against Denver, he finished with 45 points — becoming the first player in NBA history with at least 45 points, 10 assists and 10 three-pointers in a game as he tied his own franchise record for three-pointers in a game.

Lillard’s 61-point outing against the Mavericks on August 11 tied his own club record for points in a game and marked his third game of 60-plus points this season, a one-campaign feat only accomplished by Lillard and Wilt Chamberlain.

In a must-win contest at Brooklyn on August 13, Lillard finished with 42 points.

As he prepared to lead the Blazers against the Memphis Grizzles on Saturday in a play-in game for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs, Lillard said his explosive performance in the bubble was a continuation of his form early in a season that was then disrupted by injury and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel like I was in this type of rhythm before I got hurt before the All-Star break (in February),” Lillard said. “I felt good, I was shooting the ball well I was moving well.

“And then coming off the injury after the break it just took some time, and then the season got suspended.

“So just having that time to recover and get healthy, I guess kind of clear my mind of everything and spend time with my family and have time away from the game, I just came into the bubble ready to go.”

Phoenix’s Monty Williams, who led the Suns to a perfect 8-0 record in the bubble, was chosen as the top coach of the seeding-game schedule, even though his young team didn’t make the playoffs.

Joining Lillard on the first team for games played at Disney World from July 30-August 14 were Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Indiana’s T.J. Warren, Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Houston’s James Harden.

Booker was second in the top-player race.