Damian Lillard made 218 three-pointers this season. Last Friday, Lillard made another three-pointer, but this one carried a little extra meaning.
With 0.9 seconds left in the game and his team down 98-96, Damian shot a three-pointer over the outstretched hand of Rockets’ small forward Chandler Parsons.
The ball barely tickled the net.
Lillard’s game-winning shot gave Portland a 3-2 series win over Houston, their first playoff series win since 2000.
The stakes couldn’t have been higher for the Trailblazers at the end of game six. Parsons, the player guarding Lillard on the final play, had just made a lay-up to give Houston their 98-96 lead.
And with game six taking place at the Rose Garden in Portland, had the Rockets held on, game seven would have taken place at the Toyota Center in Houston.
The Rockets were one of the most formidable opponents on their home court this season, winning 33 and losing only 8 games, good for the fourth best home court record. Portland played two highly competitive games in the regular season at the Toyota Center.
They lost both.
Damian Lillard is no stranger to important shots, however. During the 2013-14 season, the second year point guard out of Weber State University made game-winning shots against the Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The last one on that list, against Cleveland, was also a game-winning three. Like this past Friday, Lillard didn’t hesitate at all, and there was no doubt that the ball was going in the hoop after it left his hands.
Appearing in his first career playoff series, Damian exhibited his heroics at the first opportunity available. In game one, trailing by three, Lillard made another three-pointer to tie the game at 114-114 at the end of regulation.
The Trailblazers would go on to win game one in overtime by a score of 123-120.
With his growing reputation for big shots, Portland had reason to trust Damian with the all-important shot at the end of game six.
Lillard had previously made 22 out of 46 three-pointers in the series against Houston, good for an astounding 48%.
With his 23rd, Damian eliminated the Houston Rockets and added another notch to his belt—a belt that will no doubt be much longer by the end of his NBA career.
Sources: Sports Illustrated