‘Continue To Work’: Damian Lillard Details What Portland Trail Blazers Need to Improve

Published 01/17/2021, 11:30 AM EST
DENVER, CO – MAY 7: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


The Portland Trail Blazers are currently on an incredible run, as they won five of their last six games. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are in striking form, and they helped the Blazers get the better of the Atlanta Hawks, which also improved their regular-season record. 

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Damian Lillard has earned the loyalty of his Portland Trail Blazers unit

Lillard has been in terrific form since the dawn of 2021 and his numbers back up the case as well. Since January, Lillard has been averaging 30.0 PPG in 46% shooting while providing seven assists per game! 

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Lillard has earned a great deal of respect from his teammates for the leadership he’s provided over the years. The point guard is hungry for victory, and the rest of the Blazers team follows in his path. 

Jan 11, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots the ball past Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Boucher (25) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

“Some of y’all say he [Lillard] always takes charges, and he is leading by example and everybody needs to take more charges. Just Dame being Dame,” Lillard’s teammate Gary Trent Jr said. 

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Dame reciprocates the admiration he receives from his teammates

The Blazers have been a threatening unit for quite a few years now, and they have what it takes to challenge for bragging rights in the Western Conference. As for the 2020/21 season, they’re gradually working their way up in the table, and a recent victory against the Hawks contributed towards it. 

“Happy that we were able to put a hat like that together but we got to continue to work on becoming the team that hang our hats [defense], whether we make or missing shots we be that type of team consistently because it’s what we’re gonna need,” Lillard said after the Blazers’ 112-106 victory against the Hawks. 

The Blazers are improving their defense, and they didn’t have the best strategy employed during the opening games. Right now, they allow an average of 115.2 points per game, which puts them in the top half on the list of the worst defenses in the league.

Dec 26, 2020; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket under pressure from shooting guard Sterling Brown (0) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard understands the league better now, and his experience levels are playing a major part during crunch-time situations. Furthermore, a few Portland players also put in vital minutes during the fourth quarter against Atlanta, and this left Lillard impressed. 

“That type of effort and energy and you know how we had, DJ [Derrick Jones Jr.] climbing or crashing the glass. Melo [Carmelo Anthony] physical in the paint and his blocking shots – he blocked five shots tonight. GT [Gary Trent Jr.], being physical and aggressive into the ball,” remarked Lillard. 

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“We had that type of urgency,” added Lillard, after which he iterated the importance of consistency. The team showed plenty of intent against the Hawks, and they’d have to showcase it more if they’re making a run for the conference title. 

Damian Lillard recorded 36 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists against the Hawks to propel Portland to their eighth victory of the season. He’s putting up incredible efforts so far, but how far can he take the Blazers this time? 

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Arjun Athreya

1798 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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