Damian Lillard's huge night vaults Blazers to series win | News Coverage from USA

Damian Lillard’s huge night vaults Blazers to series win

Damian Lillard already had produced a spectacular playoff performance. But as time expired on Tuesday night and he hoisted one, final, perfect shot to the heavens, he turned it into one for the ages.

With an outrageously deep three-pointer, somewhere between 37 feet and infinity from the basket, Lillard checked off a whole bunch of boxes.

That sharpest of daggers took his personal tally to 50 for the night, it tore the soul out of the Oklahoma City Thunder, it completed a rousing 13-point fourth-quarter comeback and it gave the Portland Trail Blazers a 118-115 in Game 5 win and a comfortable 4-1 series victory.

For Portland, swept in the first round by the New Orleans Pelicans last year, this was a sign that they are here to play, and will now relax for a minute before they face the winner of the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets series.

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For Lillard, it was oh so sweet, coming at the end of a testy series in which Russell Westbrook had sought to get under his skin but never quite managed it. The final touch was poetry, while being jaw-dropping in its audacity.

With the ball at his fingertips Lillard let time wind down, too late it seemed, until, with a couple of ticks remaining he pressed launch and found his aim to be true once more. Does anyone really expect a shot from so deep to go in, even if they’ve made nine strikes from downtown already that night?

Lillard believed, so much so that instead of celebrating wildly like the rest of Portland he simply raised his hand and waved goodbye to the Thunder, for whom Westbrook had a 10th career playoff triple-double in vain and Paul George hit 36.

Goodbye indeed. The Trailblazers, meanwhile, go marching on, without injured big man Jusuf Nurkic and without much of a chance at all if you listen to most pundits. Lillard is happy to defy both the critics — and convention.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno.








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