Lillard joins 20,000-point club

TALENT. Milwaukee Bucks’ Damian Lillard gets past San Antonio Spurs’ Tre Jones during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 132-119.
TALENT. Milwaukee Bucks’ Damian Lillard gets past San Antonio Spurs’ Tre Jones during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 132-119. AP

DAMIAN Lillard didn’t bother hiding what his latest career milestone meant to him.

Lillard scored a season-high 40 points to push his career total over 20,000, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double and the Milwaukee Bucks trounced San Antonio 132-119 on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, Dec. 20, 2023 PH time) as the Spurs played without Victor Wembanyama due to a sore right ankle.

“I don’t want to fake downplay it like it’s nothing,” Lillard said. “I know it’s a big deal. It’s a great accomplishment. It’s a rare space to be in.”

Lillard increased his career point total to 20,034 and became the 51st person in NBA history — and eighth active player — to reach 20,000 points. Lillard, who was playing his 794th career game, became the 17th-fastest player to reach that milestone.

“When you look at Dame, obviously he can shoot the ball,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. “He can stretch the floor. He just puts a lot of pressure on your defense. If you bring your bigs up, he can drive around them. He’s strong enough and physical enough to finish at the rim. He just has no weaknesses on the offensive end.”

The other active players with at least 20,000 points are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Chris Paul.

Lillard, James, Curry and Harden are the only players in NBA history to have 20,000 points, 5,000 assists and 2,000 3-pointers.

“I look at what led up to it,” Lillard said. “All of the things that I think of in high school, in college and the doubt that I faced over the course of my career, before the NBA — what I wasn’t supposed to be, what I wasn’t supposed to accomplish, and just my mentality through all those things. Sometimes you don’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’ve just gotta have that faith in yourself.”

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