The Portland Trail Blazers earned a timely 134-124 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday, keeping them firmly in the hunt for a playoff spot with a 23-25 record. Damian Lillard scored 60 points in the contest, his highest-scoring game since the 2019-20 season.

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“I thought I played the game as it should’ve been played,” Lillard said. “I knew we needed to win so I came out with a mentality to attack and be aggressive, but it wasn’t like I just came out on fire. It wasn’t one of those games.”

As Lillard noted, his eye-popping performance was not the result of exorbitantly high volume but was instead made possible by superb efficiency. The Portland point guard made 21 of 29 shots from the field, a 72.1% shooting percentage that included nine three-pointers. He also made nine of 10 free throws.

Lillard’s Wednesday total was just one point shy of his personal best of 61, which he achieved twice during the 2019-20 season. He also scored 60 on one occasion in that same season, making his performance against the Jazz a sort of renaissance for the Blazers star.

This season, Portland has struggled to gather momentum. Despite consistent excellence from Lillard, who is scoring 30.1 points per game, the team is still only 12th in the Western Conference standings. Because of the extended playoff format, however, the Blazers are only a half-game out of a 10th spot as a play-in candidate, a position currently held by the Jazz.

Starters like Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons also played minor parts in Portland’s win over the Jazz and have taken some of the pressure off Lillard, but the fact remains that this team’s success currently hinges on the play of a single individual. A 60-point showing demonstrates that “Dame Time” can still strike on any given night in Portland, but the team still has a long road to the postseason ahead.

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