It only took Damian Lillard one game to produce franchise history this Thursday, as he set the record for most points scored in an official debut performance for the Bucks. The veteran star dropped 39 points in Milwaukee‘s exciting 19-point comeback to beat none other than Philadelphia 118-117 in the season opener.
The ex-Portland guard overcame Terry Cummings’ 34-point record, set back when he played his first match for the Bucks in 1984. Dame also added 8 rebounds and 4 assists to his debut exhibition.
Co-star Giannis Antetokounmpo also made the history books as he hit 23 points and became the franchise’s career leader in baskets, reaching 5,905 field goals against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 5,902. The Greek international shot 10-for-22 from the floor and also added 13 rebounds.
In the video below, check out Lillard’s highlights from his unforgettable first display wearing the Milwaukee jersey:
“It was tough man, he was hooping,” teammate Cameron Payne said. “It was crazy, we really ain’t got to see that Dame yet. That was our first time seeing him go crazy on our team, because in preseason he was getting trapped. We really didn’t get to see that. But he put on a show tonight. I know he’s gonna keep that going. The boy looked good.”
Lillard was crucial when his team needed him the most, putting Milwaukee ahead when he sank a three-pointer with 3:41 after Giannis got an offensive rebound and found him open beyond the arc. The forward then pointed at his wrist and said: “That’s Dame Time.”
After the guard’s basket, he started an 11-0 run which gave the Bucks a nine-point lead with 2:45 remaining on the clock. Despite the Sixers scoring seven-straight points, Lillard hit yet another three-pointer with 1:13 left.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially when there are so many other great players out there with Dame,” Robin Lopez said about this new Milwaukee squad. “It’s really just a feast for us. We get to watch a lot of good basketball.”
As for teammate Chris Livingston, he already notices how future opponents will have to adjust their defensive strategies to try and stop them. “They have to pick him up right as he crosses halfcourt,” he shared. “That’s gonna do a lot of good things for our offense.”
After the game, Lillard gave credit to his teammates for delivering their trust in his abilities to take the shots that placed Milwaukee ahead
Dame was grateful for the confidence given to him by his own teammates throughout his debut contest, as everyone expected him to take on those difficult shots that eventually gave the Bucks the lead.
“Even tonight on the bench, it was like towards the end of the game — it was four minutes, five minutes — Jae, Cam, you know, they were like, ‘Dame, finish them. Close it out’,” the 33-year-old said. “And it wasn’t them telling me, ‘you gotta score, you gotta do this,’ it was just they trust my judgment and trust me making decisions. And all the way down to the very last play where I got fouled and I went to the free-throw line.”
“In one game, Giannis and [Damian Lillard] are more compatible and have less redundancy than the 7-year career of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum… It fits like [Nikola] Jokic and [Jamal] Murray, like LeBron & AD.”
– Jay Williams 😳
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) October 27, 2023
In Antetokounmpo’s eyes, Lillard was “unbelievable,” and it’s hard to disagree. Fans and experts have flooded the internet expressing their admiration for this new NBA partnership, which some already believe has a stronger connection than Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“He was unbelievable today… I saw up on the screen, the most points in a season debut from a player, which says alot about him… about his character and a lot about what he brings to the table,” Antetokounmpo said.