NBA

'I know it's a big deal' – Lillard proud to reach 20,000 NBA points

By Sports Desk December 20, 2023

Damian Lillard recognised the importance of his accomplishment after reaching 20,000 NBA points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 132-119 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Seven-time All-Star Lillard is the eighth active player to reach the milestone, having followed LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Chris Paul in achieving the feat.

There have been 51 players in NBA history who have reached 20,000, with Lillard doing so in his 794th game, making him the 17th fastest to do it, on a night in which he scored a season-high 40 points.

Lillard increased his career point total to 20,034 on Tuesday, while there was also a triple-double for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo had a career-high 16 assists, 14 rebounds and a season-low 11 points for his second triple-double this season, giving the Bucks a fifth straight win and a 14th consecutive triumph at Fiserv Forum.

"I don't want to fake downplay it like it's nothing," Lillard said after the game about hitting 20,000. 

"I know it's a big deal. It's a great accomplishment. It's a rare space to be in.

"I look at what led up to it. 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 got to have that faith in yourself."

Lillard drained seven 3-pointers in a fantastic performance that saw the Bucks improve to 20-7 for the season, second only to the Boston Celtics (20-6) in the Eastern Conference.

"When you look at Dame, obviously he can shoot the ball," added Bucks coach Adrian Griffin.

"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 Spurs played without star rookie Victor Wembanyama (ankle) and lost for the 20th time in 21 games.

"I don't think we are expecting it to be long-term or anything," coach Gregg Popovich said about the injury.

Milwaukee is 5-0 on its season-long, six-game homestand that concludes Thursday against Orlando. San Antonio returns to action in Chicago on the same day.

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