Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard came out firing against the Brooklyn Nets and he finished the game with 42 points to lead his team to a 134-133 win. A minute and a half into the fourth quarter, Lillard took one step over the half court and launched a crazy three-pointer -- which went in.
"I just didn't want to be too passive," Lillard said afterward," as quoted on ESPN. "So, as I was bringing the ball up, I said, 'As soon as I see an opportunity, I'm gonna raise up.' " The Trail Blazers needed to get a win in order to secure a place in the NBA's first play-in tournament -- had they lost, they would have been packing to return home.
As the eight seed, the Trail Blazers have to win only one of two potential two play-in games against the Memphis Grizzlies. "I'll always be ready mentally," Lillard said. "I'm never concerned about that."
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts gives credit to Lillard
Before a 42-point performance against the Nets, Lillard scored 51 points against the Philadelphia 76ers and 61 points against the Dallas Mavericks to help the Trail Blazers finish seeding games with three consecutive wins.
"We needed every one of [those points]," Stotts said with a smile. "I would say that we were happy [and] relieved. We're excited to be in the play-in round. [But] it's not like we were jumping up and down," Stotts said.
"We are where we wanted to be. I don't think anybody is over the moon right now. We know that we got a tough opponent in Memphis, so there was no real time to celebrate." Nets guard Caris LeVert scored 37 points but missed a game-winner shot.
"As far as the shot, I just try to read
the defense," LeVert said. "I feel like they playing the drive, I got to watch it again, but these are all shots I practice each and every day so I'll live with that shot."
The Nets will face the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. "We'll have our starting lineup that we've had the last couple games and see how those guys progress," Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said before the game.
"We'll monitor those guys -- but it's about us having a rhythm and kind of progression as we lead into the playoffs. "So we'll assess the game, see what the game renders, but those guys have the mental makeup right now that they're playing a competitive basketball game."