Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard put on a clinic in the teams 131-114 victory over the Houston Rockets on February 26th. The seven-time All-Star set career and franchise records with 71 points and thirteen three-pointers in the effort.
Lillard previously has hit the 61-point mark twice in his career. Through chants from the crowd of “MVP! MVP!”, everyone in the Moda Center was on their feet, and everyone watching at home was glued to their TV. Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups was equally impressed.
“It really, really was a masterful performance,” Billups stated in awe. “It was a piece of art. That was incredible.”
The top-of-the-world feeling for Lillard was brought to a halt abruptly, immediately being summoned for a drug test. Lillard had already done the standard urine testing prior to Sunday’s game, it was the player’s first time getting a post-game blood test.
The ten-year veteran’s displeasure was heightened even more by his strong dislike for needles, lamenting in his post-game interview.
“I mean, honestly, I was like, ‘are y’all serious?” Lillard quipped. “They know that I’m scared of needles. It brought me down from up here to the floor. All the way until it was done.”
This is not the first time that an outstanding high-scoring performance has triggered an immediate drug test.
Mitchell Wows The Crowd
Donovan Mitchell put on a 71-point show of his own earlier this season. Mitchell rallied the Cleveland Cavaliers from a twenty-one point deficit against the Chicago Bulls, sealing the victory in overtime 145-134.
The veteran playmaker was at a loss for words after the victory over the Bulls.
“It’s humbling. I’m speechless, to be honest with you when you say that,” Mitchell said in exasperation. “… That’s really what, for me, it’s like man, this is nuts.”
Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff echoed Mitchell’s excitement.
“We were treated tonight to one of the greatest performances in the history of the game,’ Bickerstaff remarked. “Every single play that he made was a play that was necessary.”
The NBA missed no time in drug testing not only Mitchell but other members of the team as well, right on schedule after a historic performance.
In (Extremely) Good Company
This had been the highest-scoring performance by any player since the legendary Kobe Bryant dropped an astounding 81-points against the Toronto Raptors in January of 2006. Bryant had several games with 60 points or more, but his success against the Raptors lives in infamy.
While these types of performances are rare – particularly in the past two decades – eight total players throughout the history of the league have amassed such games. Only thirteen games ever has a player reached 70 points or more.
Wilt Chamberlain tops the list, a scoring legend who owns many records in the NBA, and is never left off any list when discussing impressive scoring accomplishments. Yes, Chamberlain has a 70-point game under his belt. Better yet, Wilt the Stilt had six. Chamberlain’s best chart-topping performance is his 100-point game in March of 1962 which remains the highest scoring performance in one game in NBA history.
Mitchell was aware of the immensity of joining such an elite group of players.
“To be there in the record book with guys like Wilt is truly humbling,” Mitchell said. “I always believed I could be one of the best players in the league. I’m speechless and blessed to be in the company of that greatness.”