Damian Lillard Details 'Edgy' Rivalry With Russell Westbrook
The battle between Houston and Golden State has been the Western Conference's best rivalry since Kevin Durant joined Golden State in 2016, but on a personal level, Russell Westbrook's ongoing feud with Damian Lillard may top the list.
Lillard has the edge over Westbrook of late. Portland's point guard effectively ended Westbrook's Oklahoma City career in April, banging home a 37-foot buzzer-beater to win Game 5 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Lillard chalked up another win over Westbrook on Jan. 16, when the Blazers rolled out of the Toyota Center with a 117-107 win in Carmelo Anthony's return.
Lillard detailed his rivalry with Westbrook on Wednesday.
"Every time I play against Russ, I say something back. Same thing with Pat Beverley," Lillard told The Athletic's Jason Quick. "I’m not intimidated, and I don’t really care what you gotta say, I’m gonna say something back. You know, kind of set that tone."
The four-time All-Star traded jabs with Westbrook for much of Portland's win two weeks ago. The pair of point guards badgered one another with Westbrook at the foul line in the fourth quarter, culminating with Lillard telling Westbrook, "You know I’m the last person you want to see in the playoffs."
Both Lillard and Westbrook received technicals for their comments.
Lillard won't back down from Westbrook anytime soon, though he did note the rivalry only extends to the boundaries of the court. Lillard said there's "no hate" between him and Westbrook on Wednesday.
"People get it confused that we have an issue with each other, when we really don’t," Lillard told Quick. "It’s more of an edgy matchup. Very edgy matchup. But I think it’s because there is a lot of respect there."
The Blazers' point guard has been on an absolute tear of late, combining for 158 points in his last three games. Lillard dropped 61 points on the Warriors on Jan. 20, then scored 50 against the Pacers on Jan. 26. Westbrook sat out the Rockets' win over Utah on Monday, but he's been dominant in 2020. The 2016-17 MVP is averaging 33.4 points and 8.9 assists per game since Jan. 9.
Westbrook and the Rockets will look to advance to 30–17 on Wednesday as they face Portland to close their four-game road trip.
Tip-off from the Moda Center in Portland is slated for 9 p.m. CT.