In his first game at Moda Center as an opponent, Lillard saw his Milwaukee Bucks lose 119-116 to the rebuilding Blazers in an emotional night all around.
There were, of course, hugs and a tribute video recognizing the contributions of Lillard, the Blazers' all-time leading scorer. From his Rookie of the Year campaign to emerge as the new face of the franchise to all of his Dame Time™ game-winners, it will take more than a moderately acrimonious trade standoff for Lillard to not be welcome in Portland.
Blazers fans gave him a minute-long standing ovation as he was introduced:
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) February 1, 2024
Lillard landed with the Bucks after his future interests started diverging from the Blazers, who went 33-49 last season and opted to use the No. 3 overall draft pick on a young point guard in Scoot Henderson. Lillard was widely expected to form a super duo with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Bucks' season has been something of a mixed bag.
The team's record is 32-16, yes, but significant defensive issues caused the team to fire head coach Adrian Griffin and bring Doc Rivers back into the coaching ranks after a half-season with ESPN.
Wednesday was Rivers' second game as head coach and it looked like the Bucks still had some growing pains to work out against the 15-33 Blazers. Lillard didn't have his best game, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting (3-of-13 from 3-point range), seven assists, six rebounds and four turnovers.
The Bucks managed to erase a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, but Anfernee Simons hit a game-winner to give the home crowd a satisfying win.
Simons posted 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting with five assists and three rebounds.