Damian Lillard Steals Raymond Felton’s Thunder; Tim Duncan Plays Like It’s 2005

By: 03.15.13
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Casual fans outside of the West Coast might not know it but right next to Orlando and Dwight Howard stand Portland and Raymond Felton as cities who revile their former player. A quick recap: In Felton’s lone season as a Trail Blazer (a shortened one, at that) he pissed people off by being out of shape and for his penchant to dribble the ball off his own foot out of bounds. When he realized he was being cast as the villain in a bad 2012 season, he didn’t exactly reach over the side of the boat to pull coach Nate McMillan back in before his firing. There were so many things wrong with the Trail Blazers last season, but the overweight point guard was the easiest target. When he didn’t back down — famously inviting fans to his apartment to hash it out and also claiming he’d drop 50 on Portland — there was no turning back. Well, first the Rose Garden gave Felton the business, but then his replacement, Damian Lillard (26 points, 10 assists, one turnover), did in Portland’s 105-90 win. In the NBA’s version of Old Home Week with ‘Melo returning to Denver and Dwight to Orlando for the first times since being traded, Felton’s entrance (11 points — juuuust shy of 50) was no less intriguing or loud. Lillard stole the show, though. After being down 13 in the second quarter, the rook hit an absolutely ridiculous layup in transition to take a one-point lead before halftime, a play where his body was flying toward the bench cock-eyed and on his way down, yet he still got it off. During winning time in the final 6:25 of the game, he had eight points and a dime. Portland tried to give him a curtain call … J.R. Smith threw down a jackhammer of a dunk in the first half to complement two big step-back threes in the fourth quarter but without Carmelo, who was in New York getting his knee MRI’d, and Tyson Chandler, his roster fell apart around him. You can only ask so much from Kenyon Martin (12 points) and Kurt Thomas (six points, seven boards) in a combined 54 minutes before it’s medically unsound to play them any longer. … With the loss the Knicks are 17-16 since New Year’s Day. The Wizards are 17-18. With injury troubles looming how far do you think the Knicks will fall? They’re 2.5 games in front of a three-way logjam for fifth in the East right now. We’re secretly cheering for any kind of Knicks-Nets first-round playoff series, though. We recapped today the most intriguing series of the upcoming playoffs’ first round. … What a nuts day of college conference tournament action. Richmond got called for three technicals in the final 4.7 seconds to lose to Charlotte. Then Utah upset Cal. Georgetown won to meet Syracuse again, and Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan dropped 41 to beat Georgia Tech from behind — and he’s a freshman. Louisille routed Villanova to reach the Big East semifinal against Notre Dame, and celebrated by partying with Bill Clinton. Told you it was weird. … Hit the jump to read about the NBA-record streak San Antonio’s on …

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