On Wednesday January 29th, the Portland Trail Blazers took on the Houston Rockets at home which would turn in to their 21st win of the season after a huge 125-112 win over the Houston Rockets. James Harden continued to struggle scoring only 18 of their points on some inefficient 5-18 shooting from the field. This would force Russell Westbrook once again to transform into Houston’s offensive lead where he would star in a match up against rivaled opponent Damian Lillard. Despite the bad blood both men had outing’s. Westbrook finished with 39 points, and 10 rebounds on an efficient 16-29 shooting, while Lillard logged his first career triple-double with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. The two have had an extensive history of bad blood, but it appeared to have ended on Wednesday night.
Dan Feldman, 2020, Flipboard
Although Westbrook and Lillard have an extensive history of a slight rivalry, the bad blood started in the first round of the 2019 playoffs where these to would square off.
Their first incident would take place in game two. Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard would get tangled up which would eventually lead to Westbrook ending up on the ground. Lillard attempted to steal and poke the ball from Westbrook’s hands repeatedly before Westbrook would fall to the ground and immediately look for the foul call. Lillard would get the last laugh this game completing a 20 point Blazers win to go along with his 29 points. Westbrook would soon get revenge coming in game three, specifically early in the third quarter when Lillard drove into the lane and was viciously blocked by Westbrook. As they continued to jaw at one another the whole game, Westbrook would complete his revenge game scoring 33 points in a huge Thunder win to put them back in series contention. Game four would include some underwhelming performances from Westbrook and Lillard however it was still enough for the Blazers to get the 3-1 series advantage.
Game 5 of the series is still remembered as one of the most electrifying games of the whole 2019 playoffs. The Thunder looked as if this was a runaway win late in the fourth quarter with a triple double from Westbrook and a 36 point performance from Paul George as the Thunder found themselves up 105-90 with only seven minutes left in the fourth. Despite the 15 point deficit, the Blazers went on a huge scoring stretch bringing them within only 6 points with four minutes remaining in the fourth. With only a minute left, down by two CJ McCollum ties the game with under a minute left in the fourth. Paul George and Damian Lillard trade buckets which would give the Blazers the last possession with the game tied at 115-115. Lillard would find himself with 47 points and the ball in his hands in crunch time. Lillard dribbled out the shot clock, and hit a step back thirty foot jumper over Paul George to take the Blazers to the second round of the playoffs, waving goodbye to Russell Westbrook as he walks off the court.
Tim Brown, 2019, The Oregonian
This was a series of bad blood, with many moments of tension however the bad blood would not end here. Although the series was over, and the Thunder would be sent home, the talk between the Blazers and Russell Westbrook would not end here. The infamous “Next Question” line used by Westbrook in previous press conferences throughout his career had been used against him by the Blazers twitter. After the upsetting loss for the thunder, the Blazers posted the final score on their twitter along with the caption “Next Question”. The Blazers would make it past a tough Denver Nuggets team in the second round but would eventually be swept by a Steph Curry led Golden State Warriors team.
The drama has carried on in to the 2019-20 season where their first match up would come on November 18th. Westbrook would get the best of Lillard holding him to only 13 points, as Westbrook would lead his team to a 132-108 win along with a 28 point triple-double. Their next match up would come on January 15th, where Lillard got his Blazers the win with a 25 point outing, however Westbrook was spectacular with a 31 point triple-double, but with an underwhelming 13 point performance from James Harden it was easy for the Blazers to take this one home. Their most recent meeting came last night, where the Blazers would earn their twenty first win of the season coming by way of a 36 point first career triple-double for Damian Lillard. Once again despite the Rockets loss, Westbrook came up huge with 39 points but couldn’t come up with the win due to James Hardens ongoing offensive struggles.
Troy Taormina, 2020, USA Today Sports
Despite all the bad blood, and hard fought battles over the past year between Lillard and Westbrook they were seen congratulating one another on their spectacular performances Wednesday night.