With the season in danger of passing, Damian Lillard decided it was time to shoot, even though he touched the logo near the middle of the journey so far.
A few minutes later, he threw himself to the floor near where he was, and steals the ball, which is the game’s biggest defensive play.
Lillard did everything to give Portland a spot in the NBA’s first play-in series, scoring 42 points to help the Trail Blazers escape with a 134-133 win over Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
“Urgency, energy, speed, everything, it feels like something is going on,” LIllard said.
Trail Blazers won eighth seed at the Western Conference behind Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert, who scored 37 points, missed a jump just before time ran out. Portland will play ninth seed Memphis on Saturday. If the Grizzlies win, the deciding match will be Sunday.
Winners of the play-in series got final place in the West and the first series against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Portland came on to date in eighth place, but will fall out of the playoff place with a loss, thanks to previous wins on Thursday by Memphis and Phoenix. If the Blazers lose, the Sun will inch ahead of them to ninth.
But Lillard won’t let Blazers fail, following his games scoring 51 and 61 points in the previous two games not only with a more sensitive scoring style but also with a superb defensive playstyle.
He chased LeVert for a snatch with Portland clinging to a two-point lead with 1:12 to play, setting CJ McCollum’s free throws to make it 134-130. LeVert came back with a three-point match and had a chance to win after Carmelo Anthony missed a three-point pass, but his jump was unsuccessful.
Unlike the Grizzlies and the Suns, who have been raging in their afternoon matches, the Blazers need to go all the way to beat the Nets. Portland scored 73 points in the first half, but was just six points ahead after Brooklyn shot 59%.
LeVert then scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the third half, part of the match becoming 17-3 as Brooklyn turned an eight-point deficit into a 91-85 lead. Luwawu-Cabarrot’s three-point lead extended the lead to 102-92 with 1:46 remaining in this time slot and the Nets took a 104-97 advantage for the fourth.
Lillard then hit a couple of hits with his foot touching the logo near mid-point in the 12-4 gain, wiping out a seven-point deficit and returning Portland to the 112-111 lead.
“To be honest, he missed some shots and it was Dame,” Blazers manager Terry Stotts said of Lillard’s decision to kick from 36 feet with the Nets trying to push the ball out of his hand. right when he crossed the mid lane.
Brooklyn then returned to the lead before Portland pulled out.
McCollum has 25 points and Jusuf Nurkic has 22 points and 10 rebounds for Blazers, who have a 6-2 lead in seed games.
Joe Harris and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot each scored 19 points for the Nets, they finished 5-3. They were locked in their first series against defending champions Toronto but started playing as if they needed to win.
Grizzlies 119, Bucks 106
Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant made a brace and Memphis went on to maintain their season with a win over Milwaukee, in which striker Giannis Antetokounmpo was absent after he was suspended for ramming an opponent’s head.
Dillon Brooks added 31 points as Memphis posted a second line-to-line win of the season and took a spot in the play-in series. Memphis has not made it to the knockout stages in the past two years after making seven consecutive appearances after the 2011-17 season.
Valanciunas had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 12 assists to make his first double in the 559 match of his career. The highest number of assists in the 28-year-old Valanciunas’s career was five years ago. Morant has 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was the first time two teammates had registered a triple in the same game since Bam Adebayo and Miami’s Jimmy Butler performed it on December 10 in a 135-121 overtime win over Atlanta.
Brook Lopez has scored 19 points for the Bucks, who have won the No. 1 seed spot at the East Conference for the second consecutive season.
Suns 128, Mavericks 102
Devin Booker scored 27 points and Phoenix edged past Dallas to finish as the only unbeaten team in a reboot.
Dario Saric scored 16 points and Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson each added 15 points for the Suns.
Dallas has been locked in a playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers, so starters have limited minutes of play. Luka Doncic has 18 points in just over 13 minutes. Boban Marjanovic, Dallas’s 7ft 4in reserve center, has 18 points and 20 high rebounds in his career.
Jazz 118, Spurs 112
Rayjon Tucker scored 18 points and Utah beat San Antonio after Spurs were eliminated from the playoff match, ending his 22-year post-season streak.
Jarrell Brantley added 13 points for Jazz, and Donovan Mitchell got 11 points after 11 minutes.
Keldon Johnson scored 24 points for Spurs. Spurs were officially toppled when Memphis beat Milwaukee, and Phoenix completed an eight-match unbeaten streak in the NBA reboot at Walt Disney World with a win over Dallas.
Kings 136, Lakers 122
Buddy Hield scored 28 points, including a treble that surpassed Sacramento’s record 11 consecutive shots in the third period, and Kings beat Los Angeles.
Bogdan Bogdanovic got 27 points as Kings won for the third time in the NBA restart match. The Kings made 21 triple-pointers, with Hield going 8 out of 14.
The Lakers focus on the knockout rounds. Most of the Lakers startups were tied, but LeBron James had 17 points in 15 minutes, all in the first half. Dion Waiters lead the Lakers with 19 points. Markieff Morris has 14 people.
Los Angeles locked the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in three restart games.
Mage 96. Celtics 90
Thomas Bryant had 26 points and 9 rebounds to help Washington beat Boston to win only in the reboot.
Troy Brown Jr added 17 points and eight rebounds to the Wizards.
The Celtics, who were locked in a playoff match against the Philadelphia 76ers, were off starting. Rookie Javonte Green took advantage and scored 23 of the season’s highest for Boston.
Magic 133, Pelicans 127
Nikola Vucevic scored 23 points in 10/11 shots from the floor and Orlando prepared for the post-tournament by beating New Orleans for a five-board skateboard.
Both teams lack many of their top players in a regular season finale that has no playoff meaning.
Orlando has been placed in the eighth seed group at the East Conference and will face top seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first series of games that kick off on Tuesday. New Orleans was out of playoffs so its season was over.
Frank Jackson has scored 31 points for the Pelicans.