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Lillard's last-second 3-pointer lifts Blazers over Rockets

Trail Blazers Snap Playoff Drought


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Damian Lillard couldn't believe when he got a clear look at the rim.

With the final buzzer about to sound, he took his shot.

"I got my feet squared up and it felt real good leaving my hands," Portland's point guard said. "Once I saw it on line, I said, `That's got a chance.'"

Lillard's shot fell and the Trail Blazers stunned the Houston Rockets 99-98 to take their playoff series in six games and advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in 14 years.

In the frenzied postgame celebration, Lillard took the public address microphone and shouted "Rip City!" The hometown crowd roared.

Portland, making its first playoff appearance since 2011, had been eliminated in the first round in its last six trips, and hadn't advanced to the second round since 2000.

"It's a great feeling," said fellow guard Wesley Matthews. "I'm excited for Portland, of course excited for us. The grind of the season: You're a competitor, you want to win, you want to play, you want to advance, you want to be a champion. ... It's unbelievable."

Dwight Howard made four consecutive free throws to tie the game at 91 before making a bank shot that put Houston ahead with 3:04 to go. Robin Lopez scored on a tip shot to give the Blazers a 94-93 lead with 2:15 left, setting up a wild finish.

Howard's layup and foul shot put the Rockets back up 96-94 before Nicolas Batum's fadeaway jumper tied it again with 39.9 seconds left. Chandler Parsons scored on a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds left to give Houston the lead.

Lillard prevented the series from going back to Houston with his 3-pointer as time ran out. He finished with 25 points.

The Trail Blazers said Lillard is the first player to make a buzzer-beating shot to win a playoff series since John Stockton's 3 that led Utah over Houston in 1997's Western Conference finals, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"He made a hell of a shot," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of Lillard.

Portland will face the winner of the series between San Antonio and Dallas. The Mavericks forced a deciding Game 7 with a 113-111 victory over the Spurs on Friday night. There are five first-round playoff series that have gone to seven games.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 30 points and 13 rebounds. He averaged 29.8 points during the series.

After losing the opening two games in Houston, then claiming one of a pair in Portland, the Rockets staved off elimination with a 108-98 victory on Wednesday night to narrow Portland's advantage in the series to 3-2. Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin redeemed himself from a poor performance in Game 4 with 21 points off the bench.

James Harden led the Rockets on Friday night with 34 points. Howard had 26 points and 11 rebounds as Houston - which earned the nickname "Clutch City" back in the mid-1990s when the team won back-to-back NBA championships - failed to become the ninth team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series and advance.

"It hurts," Howard said. "When you put everything you've got on the floor and somebody hits you with a dagger like that, it's a tough pill to swallow."

After Lillard's 3, Howard went over to congratulate his friend and told him he was proud of him and to go win the title.

Aldridge helped the Blazers steal the first two games in Houston, scoring 46 points in a 122-120 overtime Game 1 win, then 43 in a 112-105 victory. The Rockets claimed the first of two in Portland, 121-116 in overtime, led by Harden with 37 points. The series' third OT game ended in a 123-120 Blazers win.

Aldridge gave the Rockets credit for making the Blazers better.

"We felt like they definitely helped us grow. We're so young in the playoffs, but they definitely helped us grow and we feel we should be better for the next round," Aldridge said. "We're happy now, but we're not satisfied."

NOTES: The Blazers honored former coach Jack Ramsay, who led the team to its lone NBA championship in 1977, in a moving pregame ceremony. Ramsay died Monday after a long battle with cancer in Florida. ... A fan at the game held a sign reading: "Play like it's 1977." ... Lillard has multiple 3-pointers in six straight playoff games, a franchise record. ... It was the first time that the Blazers had defeated Houston in the postseason after three previous meetings.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
docstruick9 May 03 2014 at 1:17 PM

Nice picture, an angry Black Man. Guess thats trendy and caos is on the White House agenda. Find me a new country that I can call America.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
clwgeorgetownlaw docstruick9 May 03 2014 at 2:40 PM

KuKluxKlanistan

Flag Reply +1 rate up
forkliftman53 May 03 2014 at 5:47 PM

the buzzards got lucky again

Flag Reply +1 rate up
no_freedomof_speech May 03 2014 at 5:02 PM

Dont worry the blazers WILL let every body down and loose. One lucky shot. But myselft just like a lot of people from what i have been reading will NEVER AGAIN watch the nba. It has no right banning some one or trying to force some one to sell a team.
I would tell the nba and other owners to suck my ****

Flag Reply +1 rate up
write2chance May 03 2014 at 4:47 PM

Everyone knows what the "N" in NBA stands for now. Freakin bunch of racist fools.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Oscar write2chance May 03 2014 at 7:00 PM

Here it is

www.wichita-massacre.com

Flag Reply 0 rate up
patriot1too May 03 2014 at 4:34 PM

Most concerned Americans have chosen to not ever watch or support the NBA in any way after their awful reverse discrimination assult on that innocent Clippers owner who made a private comment in private and was hammered by the racist for it.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
rmckinnon2 patriot1too May 03 2014 at 5:56 PM

Wow, I hope so. Maybe the ticket prices will come down.

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rahclassick patriot1too May 04 2014 at 2:31 AM

Really, The arena looked pretty packed to me.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
lov2elkhnt May 03 2014 at 4:17 PM

Jailbraziers over the popfarts. Amazing either got to playoffs.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rahclassick May 03 2014 at 2:56 PM

plewdawg, herbert, kenny, docstruick9 & ross, 2000 years is almost up, your father is on his way to reclaim you and your siblings.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
bpgdean May 03 2014 at 11:14 PM

anyone who thinks racism is not a problem in the usa, only needs to look at posts on these sites... and, it doesn't even matter what the topic is some scumbag will turn any discussion into their platform for a racist rant.

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1 reply
SAM bpgdean May 03 2014 at 11:28 PM

what you read hear is what all white people think, they just want say it in public., the only way you can make people like you is what Martin Luther King said, judge a man by his character, white or black, not his color.

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whmere May 03 2014 at 1:59 PM

Too bad for the flopper(Harden) and th quitter(Howard). Hmm, a pair of H's. Well.they they can go to H !

Flag Reply +1 rate up
SAM May 03 2014 at 11:21 PM

I don't see how people can sit and watch big tall men lumber down and back on a court for two hours, I would rather watch a snail crawl. omment...

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aol~~ 1209600

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