Damian Lillard gave Golden State a new reason to rest its starters in the fourth quarter.
During his first game back on the court since being snubbed from the 2016 Western Conference All-Star team, Lillard roasted Stephen Curry, putting the game so far out of reach the Warriors didn’t bother to play him in the fourth quarter.
Prior to Friday night, Curry had sat out the entire fourth quarter on 14 occasions, primarily as a result of Golden State trouncing opponents on its quest to unseat the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for most victories in an NBA season.
Instead, behind a career-high 51 point performance from Lillard, the Warriors were handed their fifth and most lopsided loss of the season, as they fell 137-105.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Lillard became the sixth player to join the 50-point club this season, along with Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and James Harden, while playing stifling defense.
Along with his career-high scoring performance, the 6-foot-3 point guard submitted seven assists, six steals and didn’t commit a turnover in over 31 minutes on the floor.
A flawless effort from Lillard, as he joined Reggie Miller as the only other player in NBA history to tally at least 50 points, seven assists and no turnovers in a game.
Portland needed just three quarters to put the game out of reach as Lillard couldn’t be contained from anywhere on the floor.
Lillard even baited Curry into a foul as he converted a 3-pointer from the top of the key, the third time this season he managed to complete a 4-point play.
The sixth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft set a Trail Blazers franchise record for most long range conversions in a single game, as he connected on 9-of-12 shots from 3-point range. The nine 3-pointers was the most Golden State had surrendered to a single opponent in its 70 seasons of existence.
The impact he provided was immediate, as he either scored or assisted on seven of the first nine made shots by Portland on the night. Lillard even capped his 17 point opening quarter by converting a mid-range jumper with just over two seconds remaining.
The 42 points the Warriors surrendered in the opening quarter was the most the team had allowed in a single quarter this season.
Behind an array of long range shots, fluid cuts to the rim and a potent mid-range game, Lillard managed to finish the night with 20 points more than Curry.
The performance was Lillard’s third straight with at least 30 and increasing his scoring average on the year to 24.9 points per game, the sixth most in the league this year.
While the scoring of Lillard helped Portland take the lead, it was his stellar defense in the third quarter that helped put the game out of reach.
Three steals from the former Weber State star came in the third quarter, as the Warriors committed 13 of their 20 turnovers on the night during the period.
Any hopes of Golden State staging a miraculous fourth quarter comeback — as it trailed by 23 points entering the final quarter — were put to rest by Lillard.
He closed out the night with 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a stretch of 13 straight for Portland. His shot was so potent, that his late flurry of 3-pointers even included a heat check shot, as he launched a shot from 29 feet out that found its way to the bottom of the net.
Lillard connected on 7-of-8 attempts from the field in the fourth quarter and buried each of his five attempts from 3-point range.
Four of the long range conversions came from at least 26 feet away from the rim, giving Golden State little time to react on defense.
Portland officially supplanted the Warriors as the hottest team in the league Friday night.
Golden State had its 11-game winning streak snapped, while the Trail Blazers secured their ninth win in 10 games.
The victory put Portland one game above .500 on the season and during what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the team holds the seventh best record in the Western Conference.
In his first game after being snubbed from the All-Star team, Lillard proved he can be one of the most unstoppable players in the league.