Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers steal a win they had to have

Damian Lillard brought NBA Twitter out of its chair Thursday night time with a 3-pointer from about forty toes. It looked easy, and he shot it with the Trail Blazers trailing by 7 in the fourth quarter of a should-gain game. That showed the self confidence Dame brings every night time.

Late in the game, there was a different engage in at midcourt, and this one showed the competitiveness Lillard brings. It was pivotal, and it should be getting him some further see. It was his chasedown strip of the Nets’ Caris LeVert, who was his team’s Lillard this night time in the Central Florida bubble.

The turnover led to a CJ McCollum bucket and a four-point Blazers direct with fifty three.four seconds to engage in. Portland wound up winning by a single, 134-133, due to the fact LeVert missed at the buzzer. The gain despatched the Blazers into the NBA’s initially engage in-in tournament, where by they’re going to confront the Grizzlies on Saturday. The engage in-in winner will get the Lakers in the Western Meeting initially spherical.

Far more: NBA engage in-in tournament, explained

Lillard stopping a likely tying or direct-altering possession, at the possibility of getting conquer or getting referred to as for a foul, was a product or service of the desperation that will come with a gain-or-go-dwelling game.

“At that point, I was, like, we’ve acquired to wholly offer out. We won’t be able to enable this game slip,” he stated.

LeVert had 34 details at the time of the steal — he concluded with 37 — and had designed new buddies throughout the world wide web. They had been chatting about him getting to be Brooklyn’s third star when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving get back again on the court docket. He was the Nets’ third-primary scorer this season at 18.7 per game, but he had turn out to be their initially selection in the bubble (twenty five. for every game) with Spencer Dinwiddie not enjoying.

Now, he’ll direct them into the initially spherical of the East playoffs upcoming 7 days as the seventh seed against the No. two Raptors.

DeCOURCY: Dame demonstrates his school years failed to diminish his ‘upside’

“I understood what we [had been] coming into tonight,” Lillard informed TNT. “I’ve seen, like a few of their game titles, and I understood it was heading to be this type of game. We weren’t heading to occur in listed here and just get ’em out of there. They engage in with a whole lot of effort, they engage in collectively, they feel.

“And Caris LeVert is chilly.”

LeVert lost his duel with Lillard, who concluded the normal season with game titles of fifty one, 61 and 42 details soon after getting trolled by the Clippers’ Paul George and Patrick Beverley. No disgrace in that, however. Dame was on the other facet, he was on a roll, and he was working to save his team’s season.

And he had to make two eyebrow-elevating plays to make certain that would come about.