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Damian Lillard, 23, looks up to Derrick Rose, 25

Updated: December 24, 2013 6:19AM



PORTLAND, Ore. — It’s not often that being 25 feels old.

But after hearing that another young point guard “grew up watching his game,’’ all Derrick Rose could do was shake his head.

“Yeah, I’m old,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I’m 25 now. Damn, I’m old.’’

Well, not really, especially when the latest player to say he patterned his game after Rose is Damian Lillard, 23.

“That’s big,’’ Rose said of the compliment. “For a player like him, for what he’s doing in the league, it’s an honor that he even looks at my game.’’

Lillard not only expressed admiration for Rose several times last season as a rookie, but he maintains that Rose is the standard when it comes to scoring point guards. But before their head-to-head meeting Friday, the student was actually outperforming the teacher.

Rose entered the game against the Trail Blazers averaging 15.4 points, three rebounds and 4.4 assists. Lillard was averaging 19.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

“[Lillard] just keeps getting better and better,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “His experience now, seeing teams for a third, fourth, fifth time, he’s comfortable now. He knows the defenses, how he’s going to be played. He’s running his team. He can play with the ball, off the ball.’’

Staying the course

One loss wasn’t going to sway Thibodeau’s mind about his new-look lineup. He started Mike Dunleavy in the backcourt again for Jimmy Butler (turf toe).

“It allows us to keep our bench together, so that’s the main thing,’’ Thibodeau said.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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