The cloud that hangs over Damian Lillard's incredible scoring performances

Peter Socotch

Damian Lillard has been scoring at a masterful clip over the past month. 

He didn't necessarily come out hot in 2020, scoring just 11 points in a losing effort to the New York Knicks, but since then, he's averaging 33 points in the month of January.

On Monday, Lillard scored a career-high 61 points and broke his own franchise record and career-high with 11 three pointers made.

To follow-up that performance, the Trail Blazers franchise player, who is expected to be named an All-Star for the fifth time, dropped 47 points, eclipsing the century mark, becoming the first-ever to score more than 100 points in Trail Blazers history.

To add to his unbelievable run, he joined elite company in doing so...

Lillard's run has truly been impressive.

But, there's one thing that mars such a feat... the Blazers record during that process. 

Lillard has averaged 44 points per game in his past four performances, and the Blazers have lost three of them. 

Portland lost to the Dallas Mavericks 133-125 Thursday night to fall to 19-27 on the season. This is the second time this season the Trail Blazers have been eight games below .500. 

The Blazers are ranked 26th in defensive rating this season. They have the worst assist ratio in the league. 

Of course, more goes into it than that, but what's going on now is a far cry from where the team was at a year ago.

Lillard's performances come on the heels of the Trail Blazers losing yet another player to injury. Shooting guard CJ McCollum went down on January 17th vs. the Mavericks in Dallas, so Lillard has stepped up and poured in the points. 

Portland's only win since McCollum went down came in overtime where Lillard had to set career-highs and franchise records. 

The Trail Blazers are depleted. They've played injured. They've played sick to the point where Gary Trent, Jr. had to get IV treatment for flu-like symptoms. They played even more short-handed after taking two players (Bazemore and Tolliver) out of the equation because of Portland's trade with Sacramento. 

Lillard shouldered the load and he delivered. But, he seems to be growing more and more frustrated, which has boiled over into technical fouls and referee criticism. 

But, perhaps, Lillard is projecting about a much larger issue. A team with the second-highest payroll that went to the Western Conference Finals is now in serious danger of not being able to crawl out of this hole. 

"[Dame] didn't sign up to be on a team like this," Yahoo! Sports Senior NBA Insider Chris Haynes told NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh in a podcast interview. 

Wednesday marked a possible turning point for the Trail Blazers on the injury front. Jusuf Nurkic, who has been rehabbing his ankle since last March, participated in a full contact practice. Zach Collins, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, was engaged in individual workouts. So was CJ McCollum, who sprained his ankle last week. 

Hopefully, the reinforcements will arrive and the Trail Blazers can turn this season around.

Damian Lillard can't keep doing this all on his own!    

The cloud that hangs over Damian Lillard's incredible scoring performances originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest