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Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard praises teammates who stepped up for him


No Dame Time? No problem.

As the Portland Trail Blazers tied the series 1-1 against Denver Nuggets with 97-90 for Game 2, Damian Lillard gave much-deserved kudos to his teammates who led the team into victory. Lillard himself has struggled finding his groove, finishing with only 14 points and four assists in Thursday’s game (Manila time).

His fellow Blazers CJ McCollum and Enes Kanter stood up for Lillard when he was off his game in Game 2.

When asked about his assessment of his team’s performance, Lillard said. “I thought CJ had a few big plays at the end. Enes had some big plays and Chief (Aminu) just competed in the paint with those big guys. Rodney in there competing, Enes competing on their offensive end. Even when they kept getting tips and second and third opportunities, they were having to work for it and we were getting shots contested down there, so we were able to get stops. In this type of game, I think that’s what you need, a tough group effort. You just need a few guys to make a few big-time plays, and I thought C.J., Chief and Enes did that at the end of the game.”

This just proves that Lillard isn’t the only threat that other teams should watch out for. The other players of their team can also unleash their explosiveness when needed. Take it from CJ McCollum, who scored game-high 20 points even against the Nuggets’ tight defense.

“I was just trying to be aggressive,” said McCollum. “I think that was the biggest thing, be aggressive, take what the defense gives me. Obviously, looking to score. But if it’s not there, being aware of the weak side, being aware of the help defender and trying to make the right play.”

Enes Kanter played a huge role by limiting Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. Al Farouq-Aminu also stepped up in today’s game, recording a double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds. Even reserved forward Rodney Hood scored 15 points with three rebounds and three blocks.

Now that the series is even and the other Trail Blazers gained more confidence from their win, their thirst to get more victories has only made them more determined especially that Game 3 will be held at their home court. The Nuggets have their plays cut out for them now that they’re faced with the Blazers’ deep roster ready to take them on. Lillard pointed out that now that the series momentum has swung their way, they’ll do whatever it takes to turn the Portland vision of making it into the conference finals a reality.

“So our goal is just to take it one game at a time and protect our home floor. We have two games on our home floor and we have to be just as sharp, if not better, because you know they are going to come back better. That’s our main focus — just take care of our home floor.” (Janiel Abby Toralba)