Lillard buzzer-beater seals Blazers’ win as Thunder exit - GulfToday

Lillard buzzer-beater seals Blazers’ win as Thunder exit

Basketball

Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard celebrates after Game 5 of their NBA 1st-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Associated Press

Damian Lillard sank a three-pointer on the buzzer to cap a 50-point display as the Portland Trail Blazers completed a late fightback to send Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder crashing out of the NBA playoffs on Tuesday.

Needing a win to keep the best-of-seven series alive, Oklahoma City appeared to be on their way to forcing a game six after overturning a nine-point deficit at the end of the third period to open up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.

But a sensational burst of scoring hauled the Blazers back within striking distance as their home fans at the Moda Center roared them on.

Lillard leveled the score at 115-115 with a driving layup and when Westbrook subsequently fluffed a chance to restore Oklahoma City’s lead with 18.3 seconds left, Portland ace Lillard was left with a chance to grab the win. The 28-year-old point guard took his time, eating up the final few seconds before sinking a three-pointer from long-range to seal a 118-115 win and a 4-1 series victory.

“Sometimes it’s your turn to go through something, and when you keep fighting, and keep working through it, and stay together, there’s a reward waiting for you,” Lillard said after the win.

In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers set up a heavyweight playoff battle after completing comfortable series victories.

The Sixers sealed a 4-1 series win after routing the Brooklyn Nets 122-100 while the Raptors swept to an emphatic 115-96 dismissal of the Orlando Magic to also win their series 4-1. Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 23 points at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers were always in control after surging into a 17-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

They led 60-31 at half time as Brooklyn’s challenge effectively collapsed.

Embiid was again immense for Philadelphia, hauling in 13 rebounds to go with his points tally.

Five other Philadelphia players made double figures, with Ben Simmons scoring 13 points and Tobias Harris 12. JJ Redick and James Ennis III added 11 apiece. Jonathon Simmons finished with 10 from the bench.

Embiid believes the Sixers have the talent to mount a championship-winning playoff campaign.

Agence France-Presse

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