After an intense mid-afternoon matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers culminated with the usually clutch Damian Lillard missing not one – but two – potential game-tying free throws and a game-tying three-pointer, Portland dropped a vital contest 122-117.
It was an especially brutal defeat for the Blazers, who cannot afford to lose ground in the hotly contested race for the West’s No. 8 seed, because not only did the Clippers rest Kawhi Leonard for the entire game, L.A.’s other star swingman, Paul George, only played two fourth-quarter minutes as the team tried to manage his workload.
Things got interesting late in the game when Patrick Beverley openly mocked Lillard after missing the two crucial free throws by pointing at his wrist and saying it was supposed Dame Time:
Patrick Beverley taunting Dame after he misses both potential game-winning free throws pic.twitter.com/ZIUjVbQm6R
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) August 8, 2020
That led to Lillard unleashing on Beverley after the game, except in doing so, he also brought up George’s name. After the tough defeat, Lillard told the media:
“That just shows what they expect from me down the stretch. They know what I do. [Patrick Beverley] saw it 1st hand when I was a 2nd-year player and he was in Houston. I’m sure he has a great memory of that. I sent him home before at the end of a game. Paul George just got sent home by me last year in the playoffs. So, they know. The reason they react like that is because of what they expect from me, which is a sign of respect. It shows what I’ve done at a high clip more times than not. I’m not offended by it.”
It’s unclear what exactly led to Lillard bringing up George’s name in his post-game commentary, as the two weren’t seen jawing at each other during the contest itself, though there is some history there.
After Lillard’s series-clinching shot over George and his Oklahoma City Thunder, George famously referred to Lillard’s iconic deep jumper as a “bad shot,” which the Blazers guard responded to by calling it bad defense by George instead.
Regardless, Saturday’s back-and-forth between Lillard and George didn’t stop at the post-game press conference; it extended into social media, where George responded to the fiery post-game comments on Instagram by saying that Lillard is the one getting sent home this year.
Lillard didn’t take too kindly to that, responding that George should, “keep switching up teams,” and, “running from the grind,” while referring to George and Beverley as, “chumps.”
Dame responds to PG and Pat Bev 👀 pic.twitter.com/82PkksfU9j
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 8, 2020
Lillard is referring to the fact that George is currently on his third team after requesting trades from the previous two while the Blazers point guard has ground away in Portland for the last eight years with nary a complaint.
George responded to Lillard by reminding him that he had more success in Indiana than Lillard has had as a Blazer, which is technically true when you consider George has been to two conference finals to Lillard’s one appearance to that stage of the playoffs.
George also seemed to warn the superstar point guard that Dame Time is running out:
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) August 8, 2020
More than anything, this is likely just banter between two competitors after a heated contest, but nonetheless, it’s interesting to see how intense the rivalry between Lillard and George has gotten after the 2019 playoffs when, before that, the duo seemed to be more than cool with each other.
In fact, Lillard has made more than one mention on Twitter in the past about wanting to play with the talented George:
Damian Lillard retweet. pic.twitter.com/NfRz2dhL7L
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) May 19, 2017
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) August 8, 2020
Lillard was even complimentary of George as recently as January of 2019, when, midway through George’s first season with the Thunder, he mentioned how impressed he was with the high-scoring two-way forward:
Damian Lillard on Paul George: “He’s got the look of somebody who did what they were supposed to do this summer. He came back, his mind was right, and you can tell he did the work. He’s come back basically leading their team. He’s been a handful for everybody.”
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) January 5, 2019
It’s a shame that we probably won’t see these two teams match up again until the 2020-21 season. The rivalry is just now starting to get good.