Ranking Portland Trail Blazers' Best Damian Lillard Highlights of 2012

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2012

Ranking Portland Trail Blazers' Best Damian Lillard Highlights of 2012

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    If you told even the most optimistic Portland Trail Blazers fans before this season began about rookie Damian Lillard's amazing year, your efforts would likely be met with derision and laughs.

    Lillard was viewed as the best point guard in the class, but most people thought he would be solid at best as a rookie.

    But Lillard has exceeded all expectations and is on his way to a likely Rookie of the Year award, and has Blazer fans thinking playoffs in a year that was thought to be all about rebuilding.

    In honor of Lillard's outstanding rookie campaign, here is a rundown of his best highlights thus far.

5. Career-High 5 Three-Pointers Versus Sacramento Kings

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    One of the joys this season in watching Damian Lillard is hearing the opposing commentators when the Blazers come to town.

    The Sacramento Kings broadcasting team did a good job of trying to keep their emotions in check, but they were obviously impressed.

    In this mid-November game against the Kings, Lillard showed off his range. He finished with five triples, only missing one, and flat out dealt with Sacramento.

    He ultimately dropped 22 points to go with nine dimes.

4. 28 Points Versus Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Damian Lillard has shown a lot of things as a rookie. He has shown he can pass the ball and he has shown that he has a very calm demeanor on the court.

    But more than anything, he has shown that he can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court.

    In this game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lillard destroyed J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour. He was everywhere and ended up with a career high of 28 points.

3. 29 Points Versus San Antonio Spurs

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    In what turned out to be his coming out party for a lot of America, Lillard took on Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in mid-December at the Rose Garden.

    Lillard not only outplayed Parker, but he blew by the veteran point guard like he was wearing cement boots.

    Lillard finished the night with a career-high 29 points and a victory.

    For a real treat in the above video, check out the look of concern on the face of Spurs coach Greg Popovich at about the one-minute mark. Priceless!

2. Opening Night—23 Points, 11 Assists

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    Those expecting a quiet opening night from Lillard were sorely mistaken.

    Granted, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't provide a ton of defense, but Lillard made them pay regardless.

    Right from the start you could tell there was something different about this kid. He was launching deep three-point shots, running the pick and roll to perfection and finding his mates in their sweet spots. And that was just the first quarter.

    Personally, I had not heard the Rose Garden so amped up since their playoff win against the Dallas Mavericks a few years ago.

1. Game Winner Versus New Orleans Hornets

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    In a game that was anything but big for Lillard, he was able to turn his slow night on its head in one fell swoop.

    With the game tied at 92, Lillard dropped the inbound pass to Luke Babbitt, then used the swingman as a roadblock, took a couple dribbles and hit a step back three.

    Obviously the shot was the biggest part of the exchange, but the way that Lillard so calmly knocked it down is what made the fans stoked.