----- Damian Lillard scores 42-points as the Portland Trail Blazers survive 134-133 against the Brooklyn Nets, advance to meet the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference play-in Saturday at 11:30 AM.
Damian Lillard sent the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference play-in series scoring 42 points on 8-of-14 shooting from beyond-the-arc as the Portland Trail Blazers survived a scare from the Brooklyn Nets escaping with a 134-133 win Thursday night in Orlando.
Lillard has been on a scoring tear scoring 51 and 61 points in his previous two games, but it was his defense late in the game that gave Portland just enough to hold off the Nets.
He tracked down Caris LeVert for a steal with Portland holding onto a two-point lead with 1:12 to play, setting up a pair of free throws from CJ McCollum that made it 134-130. LeVert came back with a three-point play and had a chance to win it after Carmelo Anthony missed a 3-pointer, but his jumper was off.
The Blazers breathed a huge sigh of relief when LeVert's jumper bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded.
“I was tired,” Damian Lillard said. “I had played the whole second half. I was just like, ‘Please miss. Please get the rebound and let’s end this game.’”
The Nets led 107-100 early in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers responded with a 12-4 run thanks to a couple of threes from Lillard including one on the NBA logo near the half court line. The Nets would once again go up by five-points in the fourth before Portland put the game away.
The Blazers once again struggled to get stops on defense allowing the Nets to shoot 55.2% from the field including 14-of-33 from three-point range. LeVert led the Nets with 37 points.
Lillard had some help on the offensive end tonight. McCollum scored 25 points and Jusuf Nurkic added 22 points and 10 rebounds in his first meeting against the Nets since breaking his leg in March of 2019 at Moda Center. Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points and pulled down nine boards off the bench and Gary Trent Jr. added 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
Up Next- Portland will face the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday inside the bubble in Orlando. The game is scheduled to tip off at 11:30 AM. If the Blazers win, they will meet the Lakers Tuesday at 6:00 PM in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs. If they lose, Memphis and Portland would play again on Sunday at 1:30 PM.
Chad's Take- Damian Lillard > Bad Defense