Lillard Shines In First Game
Lillard is Barry Sanders on morphine; before handing the ball to the referee after scoring a touchdown, he gets down into a yoga position and then paints an empty lake. Untouched bodies of water come to mind because he is simply placid, so serene after defeating the Lakers that he made you hope that when the cameras are off and the room clears out, he breaks character, throwing a fist into the air and hurdling in place while squealing. That mental image is funny to think about but also impossible to imagine. There’s not much artifice here; he doesn’t break character because he’s not a caricature.
“I think the world of him,” Kobe Bryant told Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com after the game, in which he scored 30 points and had six rebounds and three assists. “This was my first time really watching him play outside of the preseason. He has a great deal of talent. He seems to be fearless. I think he has a bright future.”
Those type of numbers — 23 points, 11 assists, three rebounds, one steal and the six turnovers, to be exact — put him in a group with Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only other 20-points/10-assists debut guys. His 11 assists were the most in a debut since future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd in 1994. As noted, his 23-points, nine-plus assists debut was the first since James, another future Hall of Famer, in 2003. His debut topped Brandon Roy’s 20-points, three assists, two rebounds, and was better than the first game played by the likes of Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, LaRue Martin, Sam Bowie, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden.