11:56 PM ETTim BontempsESPN LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.– Ninety-one seconds into the 4th quarter of a game that would decide the Portland Trail Blazers fate, Damian Lillard took one step over half court and released a 3-pointer that felt as though it took a trip halfway to Oregon.Like numerous of Lillards other impressive plays over the past 2 weeks, the ball dropped gently through the hoop. In action, the Brooklyn Nets called timeout. And while the Blazers still routed by 4 at that point, it felt inevitable that Lillard– the indisputable MVP of this NBA bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort– would find a way to conserve Portland one more time.In the end, he did simply that, ending up with 42 points– consisting of 12 in the fourth quarter– to raise Portland to a heart-stopping 134-133 victory over the Nets, and with it earning the Blazers the 8th seed in the Western Conference and an area this weekend in the NBAs very first play-in tournament.” I just didnt wish to be too passive,” Lillard stated afterward. “So, as I was bringing the ball up, I said, As soon as I see a chance, Im gon na raise up.” It was a preposterous shot– similar to lots of others Lillard has actually included over the previous two weeks in leading Portland to a 6-2 record, allowing the Blazers to finish a half-game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies, their challenger in the play-in round this weekend, and the Phoenix Suns. And Portland has needed each and every single one of them, as Lillard scored 51 points to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 61 indicate beat the Dallas Mavericks and now 42 indicate beat the Nets– video games the Blazers won by a combined 7 points.” We required every one of [those points],” Blazers coach Terry Stotts stated with a smile.He wasnt kidding, as Lillard became the first gamer in NBA history to score a minimum of 40 points in 3 consecutive games his group won by three or less points, according to Elias Sports Bureau data.2 RelatedBut when Stotts consulted with his group after Thursday nights video game, it wasnt Lillards 3 from half court that he revealed the team, nor was it Gary Trent Jr.s big corner 3-pointer with over two minutes to play that offered Portland the lead or Jusuf Nurkics layup or CJ McCollums key midrange jumper that followed it.Instead, he revealed the group a pair of plays: Lillard diving on the floor at half court for a loose ball, and Nurkic doing the exact same on the baseline to secure a protective rebound.” Those are the things we have to do to win games,” Stotts stated. “Those plays, those 2 plays, made a distinction.” As a result, Portland has actually discovered its method into the leagues inaugural play-in tournament, where, as the eighth seed, the Blazers have to win simply one of the two prospective play-in video games (Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) in order to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the preliminary of the NBA playoffs. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, need to win both games to make the postseason.While the two teams in the hunt for play-in berths that won earlier Thursday– the Grizzlies and Suns– scored victories against diminished Milwaukee Bucks and Mavericks teams, respectively, that were preparing for the playoffs, the Blazers got a complete effort from the Nets.Brooklyn will play the Toronto Raptors beginning Tuesday in the preliminary of the playoffs, however after the Nets have actually had guys in and out of the lineup over the past several weeks, they chose to play their full rotation its typical allocation of minutes in order to get all set.” Well have our beginning lineup that weve had the last couple video games and see how those men progress,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn stated before the video game. “Well monitor those men– but it has to do with us having a rhythm and sort of development as we lead into the playoffs.” So well evaluate the video game, see what the game renders, however those men have the psychological makeup right now that theyre playing a competitive basketball video game.” The Nets kept that focus throughout, as Caris LeVert (37 points on 16-for-29 shooting with 9 assists) led Brooklyn to a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. The Nets as a group shot a scorching 59.7% from the field through three quarters versus Portlands flammable defense, which entered Thursdays game ranked 21st in protective efficiency.But Portland, as it did versus both Philadelphia and Dallas, fought back and took the lead with 1 minute, 45 seconds staying on a layup by Nurkic that made it 132-130 Blazers, and McCollum doubled the lead with a free toss line jumper with 53.4 seconds left following a frenzied sequence in which Nurkic and Lillard both dove on those loose balls.The Blazers quit a wide variety of offensive rebounds in the 4th, nevertheless, and it appeared that would return to cost Portland a lot when LeVert scored over Nurkic, plus drew a foul, with 37.7 seconds left, cutting Portlands cause 134-133. Portland had a possibility to seal the game when Carmelo Anthony had a wide-open appearance in the corner that would have pressed the lead back to four, however Anthony missed out on. Brooklyn then boiled down and selected to play for the win, with LeVert isolated against McCollum– whom he had non-stop assaulted in the fourth quarter.But though LeVert got off a quality shot, it went desiring, and Portland had the ability to breathe a substantial sigh of relief.” As far as the shot, I simply try to check out the defense,” LeVert said. “I feel like they playing the drive, I got to watch it again, however these are all shots I practice each and every day so Ill cope with that shot.” None of that will matter, though, to Portland. Instead, the focus for the Blazers will be only to attempt to rest and recover for Saturdays video game versus Memphis– and, possibly, the matchup with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers waiting after it.If anyone believes Portland is commemorating its achievement of reaching the play-in round, reconsider. The Blazers have larger things in mind.” I would say that we mored than happy [and] relieved. Were thrilled to be in the play-in round. [] its not like we were leaping up and down,” Stotts stated.” We are where we wished to be. I do not believe anybody is over the moon today. We know that we got a difficult opponent in Memphis, so there was no real time to celebrate.” Rather than celebrating, Lillard had something else in mind: a postgame ice bath to begin preparing his body for Saturdays showdown with the Grizzlies. But he stated his mind was already getting ready to go.” Ill constantly be prepared psychologically,” Lillard stated. “Im never concerned about that.”

11:56 PM ETTim BontempsESPN LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.– Ninety-one seconds into the 4th quarter of a game that would decide the Portland Trail Blazers fate, Damian Lillard took one step over half court and launched a 3-pointer that felt as though it took a trip halfway to Oregon.Like so numerous of Lillards other amazing plays over the previous 2 weeks, the ball dropped gently through the hoop. And Portland has required every single one of them, as Lillard scored 51 points to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 61 points to beat the Dallas Mavericks and now 42 points to beat the Nets– video games the Blazers won by a combined seven points.,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said with a smile.He wasnt kidding, as Lillard became the very first gamer in NBA history to score at least 40 points in three consecutive video games his team won by three or fewer points, according to Elias Sports Bureau data.2 RelatedBut when Stotts fulfilled with his group after Thursday nights video game, it wasnt Lillards 3 from half court that he revealed the group, nor was it Gary Trent Jr.s big corner 3-pointer with over two minutes to play that offered Portland the lead or Jusuf Nurkics layup or CJ McCollums crucial midrange jumper that followed it.Instead, he showed the group a set of plays: Lillard diving on the flooring at half court for a loose ball, and Nurkic doing the exact same on the baseline to protect a protective rebound.” So well examine the game, see what the video game renders, but those guys have the psychological makeup right now that theyre playing a competitive basketball video game. The Nets as a group shot a scorching 59.7% from the field through three quarters versus Portlands combustible defense, which entered Thursdays video game ranked 21st in protective efficiency.But Portland, as it did versus both Philadelphia and Dallas, combated back and took the lead with 1 minute, 45 seconds remaining on a layup by Nurkic that made it 132-130 Blazers, and McCollum doubled the lead with a totally free toss line jumper with 53.4 seconds left following a frantic series in which Nurkic and Lillard both dove on those loose balls.The Blazers offered up a multitude of offending rebounds in the 4th, however, and it appeared that would come back to cost Portland dearly when LeVert scored over Nurkic, plus drew a foul, with 37.7 seconds left, cutting Portlands lead to 134-133.

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