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Lillard has no regrets over busy 'break'

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Damian Lillard enjoyed making NBA history during All-Star weekend, even if it didn't turn out quite as he would have liked.

The second-year Portland guard came out on top in in the first two of the record five events in which he participated, only to come up short in the final three.

Still, he had no regrets about maintaining the busiest schedule possible for what is supposed to be somewhat of a break in the grind of an 82-game regular season. Certainly, the Trail Blazers will want him to be as physically fit as possible in the coming months. Portland is in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

''It was all worth it. It was what I signed up for - a great experience for me,'' Lillard said. ''I enjoyed myself.''

Lillard spent about 43 minutes on the court over the course of the five events, and said his 23-year-old body was hardly the worse for wear.

''Obviously, I did more than everybody else, but I don't feel like I'm a wounded body or anything like that,'' Lillard said. ''If I had practice tomorrow, I'd be fine and ready.

''It didn't really take much to be honest with you. The skills is pretty simple, shooting 3s is simple, dunking is simple. I think, if anything, it would be the energy part, but I'll get plenty of rest and I'll be all right.''

Lillard also expects he will be even more of an asset to his team, and perhaps bring a bit more swagger, now that he has officially joined the fraternity of the NBA's elite.

''My confidence is high, and now I'm taking more confidence with me because now I feel like I'm one of them,'' Lillard said, looking around the interview room at fellow All-Stars. ''I can't wait to take that attitude back to my team.''


FUTURE STARS: Lillard's first event was Friday night, when he joined fellow first-time All-Star and second-year pro Anthony Davis in the Future Stars game. Lillard was assigned to Team Hill, coached by former NBA star Grant Hill. He played 30 minutes, scoring 13 points to go with five assists and five rebounds in a 142-136 victory over Team Webber, which was coached by former player Chris Webber.

SKILLS CHALLENGE: Lillard teamed up with Utah's Trey Burke in the skills challenge. The pair combined for an event-best time of 40.6 seconds to advance out of the West over the tandem of Phoenix's Goran Dragic and Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson, who finished in 42.3 seconds. In the second round, Lillard and Burke combined for a time of 45.2 seconds, fast enough - by one-tenth of a second - to win the event over the East squad of Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams and Orlando's Victor Oladipo.

3-POINT SHOOTOUT: Lillard spent just a single minute on the court in the 3-point shootout, failing to advance to the final round after he was edged ever-so-narrowly by Marco Belinelli, the eventual winner. Lillard's score of 18 in the event would have won the first round against three other shooters from the West had Belinelli not made his final shot, worth 2 points, to put him at 19. Lillard had said he thought the 3-point contest was the one he was most likely to win.

DUNK CONTEST: Lillard was on the court for 90 seconds in the first round of the dunk contest, along with two West teammates, Ben McLemore and Harrison Barnes, who took turns doing dunks during that period. Lillard spent just about 20 seconds on the floor in the final round, needing two tries to execute a spinning double-pump jam that began with him lobbing a high bounce pass to himself. However, he was eliminated by Toronto's Terrence Ross, whose dunk involved snatching a ball held aloft by rapper Drake, then tucking the ball between his legs before dunking with one hand.

THE FINALE: Lillard played less than nine minutes. He had nine points, a rebound and no assists as his West squad blew an 18-point second-half lead in a 163-155 loss to the East. ''I understand it's a seniority thing,'' Lillard said of his limited minutes. ''You've got guys that are producing at the same level that I am for my team and they've been here five times already, so they're going to be on the floor and that's a respect thing. That's the way it should be. If I'm ever a five-time All-Star or four-time All-Star and a first-time All-Star comes in a plays more minutes than me or finished the game over me, I wouldn't like that, so I respect it.''

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
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