Philadelphia 76ers fans aren’t stupid. They had the man of their dreams in their home arena and wasted no time making their pitch to get him in a Sixers uniform.
It started during player introductions when the Philly faithful serenaded Lillard with cheers, instead of the normal “Sucks” chant reserved for visiting players. They carried it into the first quarter with a faint-yet-audible “We Want Lillard” chant ringing out three minutes into the game. Forty seconds later, the Trail Blazers star got fouled and headed to the free-throw line. The majority of the Wells Fargo Center serenaded him. Lillard heard every syllable.
“The City of Brotherly Love. They showed the brother some love,” Lillard said. “It is … they showed me some love but that was it.”
Lillard suffered an awful shooting night – 7-of-20, 2-of-9 from deep – during a 113-103 loss to the Sixers. He still managed to score 20 points. There were rumors of Lillard being unhappy in Portland to start the offseason, whispers that maybe he wanted a change of scenery and Philadelphia kept looming as a perfect trade partner in a swap for Ben Simmons.
The trade never materialized and the six-time All-Star has since put to bed any desire to leave. He reiterated that on Monday night while admitting those “We Want Lillard” chants made him laugh.
“It doesn’t shift my focus either way,” Lillard told reporters. “During starting lineups they were like booing everybody and then they cheered when I came through. I laughed at that. I thought that was funny, you know what I’m saying – and that comes with professional sports, it’s fun and it’s a public thing. I’m not uptight about it or acting like I don’t recognize it.
“I know what it is and I know what it’s about. But I’m a Trail Blazer. I appreciate the love. I appreciate the respect that they showed and the desire or whatever … I’m 10 toes in Rip City. And I’ve said that time and time again. Tonight, I laughed about it during starting lineups but that was that. I was here to win a game.”
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Danny Green Suffers Hamstring Injury
Danny Green left the Blazers-Sixers game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. He scored 11 points in 19 minutes before clutching at his leg and leaving the floor. Head coach Doc Rivers feared it could be a lingering ailment based on Green’s body language. The veteran guard usually lobbies to go back in but he accepted the trainer’s advice to stay on the bench.
“I think his hamstring got tight,” Rivers told reporters, via Sixers Wire. “I don’t know how bad. I was glad we took him out. He kept grabbing at it. It’s funny, I had someone already at the table when he grabbed it, and then he makes a 3 the next play, but the fact that he wanted to come out, Danny never wants to come out. So, I would say I’m a little concerned with that.”
The Sixers were already short-handed with Joel Embiid (load management) and Tobias Harris (health and safety) sitting out Monday night. If Green is out for an extended period, it would shorten the bench even more for Rivers. Furkan Korkmaz started for Harris versus Portland. Look for Matisse Thybulle to enter the starting five in a doomsday scenario for Green.