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PORTLAND -- Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard usually keeps to the rookie script, rarely showing too much excitement on the court or off it.

But when he launched the game-winning 3-pointer against New Orleans late last week, he celebrated by high-fiving a random fan seated near the bench.

The 22-year-old has emerged as the NBA's early Rookie of the Year favorite, handling his debut season with a veteran's poise but a freshman's humility.

Lillard is averaging 18.8 points, best by far among the NBA's first-year players, along with 6.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and a labor-intensive 38 minutes per game. He is the only Blazer to start in all 23 games.

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