Lillard secures ‘a purpose of mine,’ wins NBA 3-point contest
SALT LAKE CITY — As the ultimate pictures ticked down in Saturday’s 3-point contest for Damian Lillard, he thought he needed to make them to tie Buddy Hield to be able to win it.
Then, when he seemed up on the video board after pulling down his last few pictures, he noticed his rating — 26 — was one level forward of Hield, who had 25.
“As I got down the stretch of that last two racks, I was, like, counting,” Lillard mentioned with a smile. “I knew I had to make all of them, but I thought I was on track to tie him. I actually lost count. But I knew I needed to make all of them. Then when I looked up, I was, like, oh, that’s 26.”
Lillard, who is thought for his penchant for making clutch, game-winning pictures late in video games, was happy this occurred in the identical vogue.
“It’s ironic that it came down to that, and I had to tighten up and come up big at the end. But, like you said, that’s typical. That’s typical for me.”
Lillard, considered one of 5 All-Stars within the competitors — together with Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, Boston Celtics ahead Jayson Tatum, New York Knicks ahead Julius Randle and Utah Jazz ahead Lauri Markkanen — positioned second behind Haliburton, and forward of Hield, by means of the primary spherical.
That put Lillard in place to observe by means of on a pledge he delivered to his rivals within the locker room earlier than it started: That he could be the one going residence victorious.
“I think this was a goal of mine [to win] because I think, as a shooter, anytime you come into a competition like this you want to win it,” Lillard mentioned. “I had done it two times before this, and I didn’t take it seriously enough. As a shooter, I wanted to win at least one time before I was done playing, and that’s why I took this one a little more serious.”
As a part of these preparations, Lillard — who spent 4 years starring at Weber State, situated a couple of half an hour’s drive north of downtown Salt Lake City — wore his school jersey along with his NBA quantity, 0, in addition to nickname, “Dolla,” on the again.
He mentioned it was particular for him to get the prospect to compete in a spot the place he had spent a lot time, and to honor his school days on the identical time.
“I feel like everything just lined up,” Lillard mentioned. “Being back here, I went to school here. I was here four years. A lot of family, a lot of friends here. People that I’m still in touch with.
“You know, after I contact down right here in the summertime, whether or not I’m going again for an alumni sport or simply going to coach, or this time, I really feel the love. I do know that I’m welcome right here. It’s a second residence for me.”
“Sometimes, that is what it takes for an expertise to be what it is presupposed to be,” he said. “I really feel like that is the way it was presupposed to occur. I’m comfortable that it occurred right here.”
At one point during Lillard’s news conference, Hield — who had won this competition in Chicago in 2020 — shouted in at Lillard, good-naturedly giving him a hard time over edging him out.
Lillard, however, didn’t miss a beat, saying that Hield “had his probability” to beat him.
Haliburton’s 31 points in the first round was the highest total anyone posted in the event this year. But a slow start in the championship round doomed him to finish well behind both Lillard and Hield. Still, Haliburton — a first-time All-Star this year — vowed to return to the competition next year, when it is in Indianapolis.
“Unfortunately, I choked within the final spherical, however, you understand, issues occur,” Haliburton said. “I’ll be again subsequent yr.”
Haliburton, Lillard and Hield outpaced Markkanen (20 factors), Tatum (20 factors), Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (18 factors), Randle (13 factors) and Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter (8 factors) to advance to the championship spherical.