Lillard describes it as the “biggest shot of my life…so far” after win.
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard hit a sensational buzzer-beating 3 on Friday night to secure a dramatic series win over the Houston Rockets.
It’s the first time in 14 years that the Blazers have made the Western Conference semi-finals, and after grabbing the microphone to shout “Rip City!” after the game which brought a roar from the home crowd, Lillard described it as the “biggest shot of my life…so far”.
With Dwight Howard going back and forth with the likes of Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum in the closing stages, Chandler Parsons’ lay-up gave the visitors the lead with just 0.9 seconds remaining.
However, while many assumed that this would be going back to Houston for a deciding Game 7, Lillard had other ideas and drilled his 3-pointer as the clock expired to finish with 25 points on a sensational night in Portland.
LaMarcus Aldridge led his team with 30 points and 13 rebounds, and now the Blazers will await the winner of the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks series.
In contrast, those two rivals will indeed play out a Game 7 after the Mavericks secured a home win on Friday night behind 29 points from Monta Ellis.
While Tony Parker matched Dirk Nowitzki with 22 points, Ellis made the difference to set up a winner-takes-all encounter on Sunday and Tim Duncan insists that they must cut out all the mistakes that his team are making, particularly on the defensive end.
It is a real shock considering the form the Spurs came into the post-season with, and having struggled through the series thus far, they face a nervous night on home court if they are to prevail and advance to the semi-finals.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets also forced a Game 7 after defeating the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center.
Deron Williams had 23 points for the hosts who took a commanding first half lead after coach Jason Kidd had asked them to be aggressive from the start.
DeMar DeRozan responded with 28 points but his team-mates struggled offensively as well as with foul trouble, while they were undoubtedly too soft on the defensive end and allowed the Nets to penetrate and get to the basket with ease.
The pressure has been on the Nets given their star-studded and expensively assembled roster, and now they must travel back up to Toronto to finish the job.
Toronto Raptors 83-97 Brooklyn Nets
San Antonio Spurs 111-113 Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets 98-99 Portland Trail Blazers