Damian Lillard Honors Kobe Bryant, May Break Laker Legend’s Record

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Getty Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard

The Lakers weren’t the only ones honoring Kobe Bryant on Friday night. But, minutes before tip-off, it was a Blazers player sitting in silence.

Damian Lillard was supposed to be the enemy at Staples Center, a rival sharpshooter looking to spoil a special night in Los Angeles by bringing his scorching-hot scoring streak into town.

But the five-time All-Star posted an epic Instagram photo prior to the game where he sat and checked his phone amid a sea of No. 24 yellow Lakers jerseys. Portland’s superstar point guard knew this was bigger than him, plus Bryant was one of his heroes growing up in Oakland, California.

“For me, it’s going to be emotional because I grew up idolizing Kobe,” Lillard told reporters, via USA Today. “I grew up a huge fan of Kobe and cheering for Kobe and eventually becoming a peer of his and playing against him and getting cool with him and being in contact with him.”

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In his name we play. @bruceely :??

A post shared by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on Jan 31, 2020 at 12:31pm PST

Lillard continued: “All of those things makes for a very sad and emotional night. It’ll be a tough game to play. But I’m choosing to honor him and coming out and competing and showing my respect in that way.”

Lillard Matching Bryant’s Historic Scoring Streak

Damian Lillard is in the middle of a torrid points run and earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors as a result. The 29-year-old averaged 52.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists from Jan. 20 through Jan. 26, a prolific stretch that began with a 61-point outburst against Golden State on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

His 158 points in a three-game span put him in elite company, right there with Kobe Bryant. Lillard’s total ranked seventh-highest in NBA history since the merger. Guess what? Three of those totals belong to Bryant who scored 175 in March 2007, followed by 169 in January 2006 and 160 again in March 2007.

As Lillard got set to play at Staples Center, on the same night the Lakers were honoring Bryant, he stood 75 points shy of breaking Bryant’s record for the most points in a five-game stretch. Bryant went for 268 points from March 16 to March 25 in 2007, a remarkable streak that began (ironically enough) with an overtime win over Portland at Staples Center. Lillard entered Friday night’s game at 194.

Meanwhile, Lillard has scored 194 combined points in his previous four games this season and could surpass Bryant if he could turn in a career-high performance. His single-game personal best is 61, a feat he accomplished on Jan. 20, 2020. Bryant’s career-high game was 81 points against Toronto on Jan. 22 at Staples Center. Lillard could potentially match it on the same floor.

Kobe Bryant Scores 50+ Points in 4 Straight Games!Tipping off March 16, 2007, Kobe Bryant scores 50+ points in four consecutive games becoming only the second player in NBA history to do so after Wilt Chamberlain. Game by game breakdown: 65 Points vs Trail Blazers on March 16, 2007 50 Points vs Timberwolves on March 18, 2007 60 Points vs Grizzlies on March…2017-03-16T19:26:29.000Z

Carmelo Anthony Sitting Out Kobe Night

Carmelo Anthony didn’t travel with the Blazers on Friday to Los Angeles. The 18-year veteran — and 12-time All-Star — was still too grief-stricken to suit up and play following the tragic death of his good friend Kobe Bryant. He and Bryant won two Olympic gold medals together in 2008 and 2012.

“You just don’t know how you’re going to respond to that,” Anthony told reporters, via Oregon Live. “You don’t know what triggers what. I don’t think grieving has a time.”

The Blazers signed Anthony on Nov. 19 and the veteran forward has averaged 15.8 points in 32.5 minutes per game. The 35-year-old has been playing incredibly well for Portland and even won Western Conference Player of the Week honors on Dec. 2. Get back soon, Carmelo.

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