NBA Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard beats the Thunder with 50 points and an epic buzzer beater

Damian Lillard sent the Thunder packing and his Trail Blazers to the second round with an all-time great playoff performance.

One of the feistiest first-round series in this year’s playoffs was ended by one of the greatest shots in playoff history. With the score tied at 115, Damian Lillard calmly dribbled the ball just this side of halfcourt, as Paul George lurked, waiting for Lillard to make his move.

With three seconds left on the game clock, George stepped forward to crowd Lillard. With two seconds left on the clock, Lillard stepped to his right and calmly launched from 37 feet and sent the Thunder packing.

It was the perfect finish to an epic performance by Lillard, who finished with 50 points on 17-of-33 from the field, including 10-of-18 on 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers get to celebrate and prepare for the eventual winner of the Spurs and the Nuggets. The Thunder get to start thinking about how to finally answer the tough questions.

Portland Trail Blazers


Oklahoma City Thunder



Damian Lillard was everything. It would have taken a lot for Lillard to erase criticism of his dismal performance in last year’s playoff sweep at the hands of the Pelicans. But I think we can all agree he’s done it. With Russell Westbrook going out of his way to poke Lillard at every opportunity, the Blazers’ star cooly averaged 33.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game in the series, shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 26-of-54 on 3-pointers. HE WAS 6-OF-8 ON 30-FOOTERS IN THE SERIES. This was the sort of thing that myths and legacies are built on, a star player somehow raising their games even higher. It may sound dramatic but regardless of what happens from here on out, this series could change the course of his career.

Paul George did everything he could but this one is going to sting. The most obvious takeaway from this serious is that George was not healthy, his ailing shoulder dramatically impacting his outside shot. And yet, he battled through the pain and was, without equivocation, Oklahoma City’s best player in the series. Doing his best to stave off elimination, George came up with 36 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists, hitting 14-of-20 from the field. He seemed to be willing his way through but a few late mistakes will give him plenty of nightmare fuel this summer. It was George’s outstretched hand that Lillard launched the game-winner over. And Portland was, at least in part, in position to win because George missed three free throws in the last six minutes. For him to play as well as he did despite the circumstances is a testament to his talent and resolve. That it wasn’t enough makes that knowledge a poor consolation.

Next: The Detroit Pistons season is over, but Blake Griffin is just getting re-started

Russell Westbrook was a problem. You can look at Westbrook’s box score from this game — 29 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks — and be left with the impression that he raised his game to meet Lillard’s. But shift your angle a bit and you’ll see the five turnovers and 20 missed shots. Westbrook was 6-of-17 on jumpers and although going 4-of-10 on 3s softens the blow so many of those contested pull-ups likely could have generated a greater return for the Thunder. Confidence is what makes Westbrook great. It’s also what makes him flawed. In a game like this, where squeezing every ounce of win probability from each possession is the difference between elimination and Game 6, he put up barriers for his own team.

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