Published: Tue, April 16, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Damian Lillard Calls Enes Kanter 'The MVP' Of Game 1

Damian Lillard Calls Enes Kanter 'The MVP' Of Game 1

Portland might have a small-market franchise, but that fan base's love for their team packs a mighty punch. Desperation quickly set in as shots failed to fall and turnovers kept piling up.

Damian Lillard on Kanter's contributions in Game 1. Paul George, who was a game-time decision because of a sore shoulder, added 26 points and 10 rebounds after a slow start. Russell Westbrook's one-man circus act is null and void in the playoffs, where the best teams in the league lurk.

"He had a huge presence down the stretch and played a huge part in us winning this game", Lillard said after Portland's 104-99 victory Sunday. He said after Game 1 that he just felt out of rhythm since he hadn't shot a basketball since Tuesday and that he would put up some shots on Monday, which he did.

On Sunday after the Thunder lost Game 1 to the Blazers, George said he wasn't able to lift his shoulders a few days ago. "Fast-forward to today, it was the first day I shot the ball".

"Tomorrow we'll get shots up and get back in tune", George continued. "We'll try and get the same looks that we got tonight". And while the Rockets' roster has been largely revamped excluding their core, Utah returns with essentially the same rotation that authored one of the bigger surprises last season.

Seth Curry made consecutive 3-pointers but the Thunder rallied in the final six minutes of the half to trail by just 54-48 at the break. Across 8 starts, Kanter averaged 18.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.

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George made a 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds remaining to get the Thunder within 100-97 but Portland hung on.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Kanter recalled his stint with the New York Knicks and his lack of playing time. Leave it to the Knicks to underutilize a talented player that is capable of thriving in the right situation.

Several days later, the Trail Blazers signed Kanter to help with their playoff push.

"I was on the worst team in the league and I wasn't even playing because they thought I was too old.it was frustrating because I just wanted to go out there and win.a couple of days ago I looked in the mirror and said I am blessed.it feels incredible", added Kanter. "The situation and all the drama, it was so frustrating because all I wanted to do was go out there and just win". It definitely feels unbelievable. It was a standout performance when most expected him to wilt under the pressure of going head-to-head with Westbrook.

Turkish worldwide Enes Kanter meanwhile reminded his former Thunder team-mates of his talent, posting a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds.

Of course, what happens during the regular season doesn't always carry over into the postseason and that was the case in Game 1 of this series. I'll stay with the under for this game.

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