Damian Lil­lard, G, Port­land

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

Craig Mitchelldyer, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A health­ier Damian Lil­lard is back to play­ing the kind of bas­ket­ball that puts him among the NBA’s best, and last week he was bril­liant. Thus he is The Den­ver Post’s player of the week.

What’s up: In three games, Lil­lard was stel­lar, av­er­ag­ing 28.3 points, 9.7 as­sists, 5.7 re­bounds and 1.7 steals per game. The all-star guard shot 53.6 per­cent from the field, in­clud­ing 54.8 per­cent from the 3-point line. The Blaz­ers won all three games, in­clud­ing a 115-110 vic­tory over the Ok­la­homa City Thun­der.

Back­ground: A bout with plan­tar fasci­itis shelved Lil­lard for seven games in De­cem­ber, but he has come on strong in the six games he has played since. His best game of last week was his 31-point, nine-re­bound, seven-as­sist ef­fort in the Blaz­ers’ win over the Thun­der. He fol­lowed that up with dou­ble-dou­bles in each of the next two games, vic­to­ries against Utah and Brook­lyn.

Dempsey’s take: This is an in­ter­est­ing sea­son for Lil­lard. The sum­mer de­par­tures of LaMar­cus Aldridge (free agency), Ni­co­las Ba­tum (trade) and Wes­ley Matthews (free agency) mean this is his team now, and he’s feel­ing all of the weight that goes with be­ing counted on to carry a team night in and night out. He’s an­swer­ing the bell. Lil­lard some­times gets lost in a Western Con­fer­ence stuffed full of elite-level point guards, but if he con­tin­ues on his blaz­ing path this sea­son, he’ll stand out by the time the play­offs ar­rive.

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