PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard was unhappy with how he was officiated in Wednesday's 101-81 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lillard, who led the Blazers with 30 points, took 27 shots, but shot only three free throws. After the game, Lillard called it "impossible" that he shot so few free throws.
"I go to the rim a lot," he said. "I'm getting smacked in my head, smacked on my shooting hand when I'm going to the basket. Guys knocking me to the ground every other play — like hard. And they know I'm trying to score man. It's impossible for me to shoot two or three free throws. It's impossible."
BOX SCORE: 76ers 101, Blazers 81
In Wednesday's loss, Lillard had eight shots within five feet of the basket, according to NBA.com.
"As much as I got to the rim and as much as they know that I’m trying to score, it’s impossible for me to get the (crap) beat out of me as often as I do."
The Blazers star guard is averaging 7.3 free throws per game this season, which ranks eighth in the league and is tied for the highest mark in Lillard's career (he also averaged 7.3 attempts last season). Only two guards, Houston's James Harden (9.5) and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan (8.0), average more free throws than Lillard.
But over the past eight games, Lillard has averaged only 5.4 free-throw attempts per game, which would rank 21st in the league, in the same range as players like Victor Oladipo and Eric Gordon.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Lillard scores 30 points in loss to 76ers
According to The Oregonian's Joe Freeman, the lack of calls in recent games has been weighing on Lillard, and even though he rarely complains publicly about officiating, he has brought up his frustration with one of the team's assistant coaches.
"We talk about this stuff all the time, where I try to just play through it, tough it out and kind of let it not affect my approach and how I'm playing the game," Lillard told Freeman. "But it's clear situations sometimes, where I'm getting downhill and I'm getting pushed in the back. And I'm trying to jump up and I'm getting pushed out. And getting slapped on my arms. Stuff like that.
"It's frustrating, especially when you get in some situations and you want to try to maybe take over a game and you want to try to make stuff happen (in) big moments of the game. And it's even more frustrating because I don't try to draw fouls. I'm trying to score the ball. It's irritating."
To be clear, Lillard wasn't blaming Wednesday's loss on officiating. The Blazers had their own issues, including a 16-0 deficit to begin the game and another poor shooting night, with Portland shooting only 33.7 percent from the field and 26.9 percent from the 3-point line.
"I think we defended hard. I think it was just another case of us struggling on the offensive end," Lillard said. "We just weren't able to put up points."
Jared Cowley is a digital producer at KGW. Follow him on Twitter here.
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