Dame-Light Savings Time

Damian Lillard running the point for the Portland Trailblazers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Damian Lillard running the point for the Portland Trailblazers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

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By Alvin Halimwidjaya

Damian Lillard running the point for the Portland Trailblazers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

When Daylight Savings Time (DST) comes around, everyone knows it’s time for longer days and hopefully warmer weather; when our clocks move one hour forward, we know that we’re getting closer to beach season, the end of the school year and the summer; you know, all the good stuff. In the same way, the NBA season has a clear sign every year that the playoffs, and therefore crunch time, is around the corner. That time is when point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers decides to readjust the gigantic chip on his shoulder, thrust his hands into an active volcano and torch the rest of the league.

Over the past few years, Lillard has inserted himself into the top tier of point guards in the NBA. His fourth-quarter heroics, aka Dame Time, are on full display this season, as he is one of the league leaders in both fourth quarter scoring and clutch scoring, which is when it’s a close game with less than five minutes to go in the contest. In addition to his game-winners, deep threes and double-digit scoring runs, he’s proven that he can lead his team and not just put up meaningless stats, as the Trailblazers are currently third in the Western Conference.

Lillard has done this for a while now; after the All-Star break, especially with two All-Star snubs in the last three years, he has come out firing and ready to put the NBA on notice. Sometimes it comes even before, as he once hung 51 points on the then-defending champions Golden State Warriors right before the break in 2016 after one of his exclusions off of the West All-Star team. He averaged 27 points per game in the 2015-16 season through February and March, 28 PPG in the 2016-2017 season from February to April and is currently putting up a mind-boggling 31.6 PPG throughout the past two months.

Whether it’s March Madness, a manifestation of Dame’s anger or just a hot streak, there’s something about Lillard that pushes him to a higher level near the end of the season. Last Monday, he dropped 39 points in an away game on the hapless Los Angeles Lakers, as he erased an 11-point lead with 5:26 remaining with a series of threes that might as well had been flung all the way from Portland. He then followed that up with eight more threes in a dismantling of the New York Knicks the very next night.

Lillard’s deadeye stroke, combined with his sneaky athleticism and the ice-cold killer instinct in his liquid nitrogen-laden limbs, make him arguably the fourth-best point guard in the NBA right now. The Blazers have never been a team anyone has wanted to face in the postseason; however, Portland has proven itself to be a significant, albeit second-tier, threat in the West. Golden State and Houston aren’t letting anyone touch them right now, but if Dame can keep his madness up past March, Rip City has a chance to play Cinderella and sneak into May.