1990s Rockets champion disappointed in current squad for giving up 71 points to Damian Lillard, hints that today’s NBA is soft

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard dominated the Houston Rockets en route to a 71-point performance.

Following the game, which resulted in a 131-114 win for the Blazers, former Rockets player Mario Elie took to social media to express his displeasure with the Rockets.

Elie also agreed with a fan who commented that the NBA is “soft” these days. Players from previous generations often hold that belief, and it seems like Elie resides in that camp.

It’s always a pretty incredible feat when a player manages to fill up the stat sheet with points. Huge scoring nights are becoming more common in the NBA, but a 71-point performance is truly special.

In his career, Lillard now has 15 games with 50 or more points. Prior to Sunday night’s 71-point outpouring, the most he’d ever scored in a game was 61 points.

The veteran’s performance on Sunday was unforgettable and even more impressive considering the stakes involved. Lillard and the Blazers are currently fighting for their postseason lives. The team sits at the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference, meaning it has work to do in order to make the play-in tournament.

The Blazers are just a half-game back of the final play-in spot, and at this point in the season, every single win counts. So, the fact that Lillard dropped 71 points is impressive enough, but to do that when his team’s season is hanging in the balance adds another layer to it all.

As for the Rockets, their season has more or less been over for months. They currently have the worst record in the league and have won just 13 games so far this season.

While it’s clearly hard for former players like Elie — and fans as well — to watch the Rockets stumble in such a serious way, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to their horrible record, the Rockets will enter the 2023 draft lottery with good odds to nab the top pick.

That means that star prospect Victor Wembanyama could be headed to Houston in the relatively near future.

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Jonathan has worked as a sports writer covering NBA and NFL news since 2017. He's a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Vikings.