With style, a franchise playoff scoring record, and the epitome of clutch and an “oh my goodness” moment, Damian Lillard found the bottom of the net with a buzzer-beating Hail Mary.
A win or go home game, the #3 Portland Trailblazers knock off #6 Oklahoma City Thunder in five games with a 118-115 nail-biter. Not just any victory, but a 37-foot three point shot at 1.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.
As time ticked away, Lillard called isolation on the 6-foot 9-inch Thunder forward Paul George, a potential Defensive Player of the Year Candidate. With the nickname “Logo” Lillard, the ice in his veins proved colder than the polar vortex.
Throughout the 48 minutes, specifically the fourth quarter, streaks created a teeter-totter exchange of leads. The Thunder had a 15-0 run in the fourth, spanning from 10:42 and lasting till 7:45, allowing the Thunder to lead 105-90 before the Trailblazers came firing back.
Due to Lillard’s historic performance, an unsung hero for the Trailblazers is forward Maurice Harkless. Following the Thunder run, he contributed eight points in crunch time, including four crucial free throws after missing his last six.
The rest of the game was in favor of the Trailblazers. For the 7:45 remaining in the game, the comeback kids finished out on a 28-10 run, with a little help of Thunder turnovers.
Trailblazers guard Seth Curry had a game altering steal from George at 1:10, leading to a 22-foot pull-up jump shot from C.J. McCollum to tie the game at 113-113. As for the last five points for Portland, they belonged to Lillard.
Nevertheless, Lillard’s second career game-winning shot to conclude a series seems poetic after an offensive barrage. His 50 point performance came on 17-33 shooting, 10-18 from beyond the three-point line, along with six assists and three steals.
Trailblazers’ center Enes Kanter posted a double-double, scoring 13 points on an efficient 6-9 shooting to compliment his 13 rebounds. McCollum and Harkless both had 17 points on 14-28 shooting combined.
The Thunder is propelled by two superstars in George and former MVP guard Russell Westbrook. George had an MVP caliber performance, putting the team on his back and scoring 39 points, including a go-ahead 15-foot jumped with 39.4 left. His 39 came on 14-30 shooting with nine rebounds
Westbrook on the other hand, managed to notch another typical triple-double, finishing the game with a 29-11-14 stat line, but inefficiently. His high scoring crawled from 11-31 of shooting and 4-11 from beyond the arc.
Thunder bench point guard Dennis Schroeder had a notable performance, shooting 7-10 from the field and scoring 17 points in 33 minutes.
The Trailblazers advance past the first round for the first time since 2015-16, patiently awaiting for the San Antonio Spurs or Denver Nuggets. Tomorrow, the sporting world will have only one NBA player on their mind: Damien Lillard.
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