Damian Lillard says Enes Kanter is ‘the best I’ve ever played with...'

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Jamie Hudson
·3 min read
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Damian Lillard says Enes Kanter is ‘the best I’ve ever played with...’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Effort, a knack for the ball, and God’s gift...

Those were the adjectives used following Enes Kanter’s franchise rebounding performance.

In Portland’s 118-103 victory over the rebuilding Detroit Pistons, it was Kanter’s night.

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Kanter notched 16 of Portland’s 25 first-half rebounds. 

Within the first two minutes of the game, it was evident he was going to have a big impact on the glass.

Kanter earned his 34th start of the season after Jusuf Nurkic sat out of Saturday’s contest due to “injury management and knee inflammation."

Head coach Terry Stotts mentioned ahead of the Blazers-Pistons contest that Nurkic “should play tomorrow” against the Miami Heat adding that Saturday was a "precautionary" move.

All season, the Blazers have had the luxury of inserting Kanter into the starting lineup when Nurkic is out.

The 10-year veteran flexed his rebounding skills against Mason Plumlee and other young Pistons.

Kanter finished with 24 points and a franchise record 30 rebounds in Saturday's win.

A record that had been held for more than 45 years. 

It was Sidney Wicks, who held the record for the most rebounds in a game in team history, with 27 boards that he notched against the Lakers on February 26, 1975.  

As the Blazers celebrated the win Saturday, the team huddled at center court with the focus on Kanter, congratulating him on the impressive feat.

Coach Stotts also took time to praise his big man postgame.

When you look at the effort that it takes to rebound – the persistence at both ends, the beating that you have to take – all those things are tough to do.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

Kanter’s previous career-high in rebounds was 26, which he pulled down in a 103-98 win over the Grizzlies back on Nov. 25 of 2018 while he was with the New York Knicks.

Lillard agreed with his coach about Kanter’s ability to find the ball once it comes off the rim.

It takes effort and persistence to come up with that many rebounds in a game where it’s that many professional athletes on the floor and he’s probably the worst athlete of all of them. So for him to come down with 30 rebounds, it’s special and it just shows his knack for getting the ball.

Damian Lillard

“He’s the best I’ve ever played with just finding a way to get the ball… I always think there’s a chance that he’s going to come up with it.”

So how is Kanter able to set franchise records in rebounding?

“It’s not something that I ever worked on,” Kanter explained. “It’s God’s gift, that’s what I will say… I have been this way since I was a little kid… Scoring is cool and everything, but rebounding, especially offensive rebounding, it gives my teammates confidence to shoot the ball better.”

When Kanter pulled down his 28th rebound to set the franchise record with 3:20 remaining in the game, the Trail Blazers bench went crazy for their teammate.

And that is what Blazers basketball is all about:

The support.

When I looked at the bench and everybody was up, everybody was cheering, everybody was smiling, everybody was supporting their teammates and that’s what we are all about.

Trail Blazers big man Enes Kanter

Coach Stotts also mentioned following the win that starting Kanter when Nurkic is available to play is something he is “considering” if Nurkic continues to be at a 20-minute limit. 

The Blazers will host the Heat Sunday on the second night of a back-to-back.