It’s a shot that will be replayed for years to come, one of the all-time postseason moments as Damian Lillard closed out the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games from almost 40 feet to give himself an even 50 points and his team a spot in the second round.
The official play-by-play lists it as a 37-foot shot, but it hung in the air for nearly two seconds, hitting the bottom of the net as the buzzer expired to lift the Trail Blazers in Game 5 118-115.cheap nfl nike jerseys china
“It was a great feeling when it left my hands,” Lillard said. “It felt good.”
With the score tied, Russell Westbrook barreled at the rim and missed a tough layup with 18.3 seconds left. The Blazers grabbed the rebound and decided not to called timeout, getting the ball into Lillard’s hands. He crossed midcourt with about 10 seconds left, and held his dribble near the logo. The seconds ticked off the clock and at a certain point — somewhere around three or four seconds — it became obvious Lillard was going to shoot it.
“I didn’t want to put it into the referee hands,” Lillard said. “Where if there was contact or maybe they get away with contact or I end up having to take a tougher shot because there was contact and they don’t want to decide the game. So I was standing there looking at the rim and I was like this is a comfortable range.”
Last week when Lillard was in Oklahoma City going through a workout, his trainer Phil Beckner suggested Lillard shoot a few deeps ones from near midcourt.
“He was like, ‘You’re gonna hit one of these,'” Lillard said. “He just kept saying, ‘You gonna hit one of these’ and when I was standing there I was like, ‘I’m gonna shoot it.’ [George] was a little bit off of me and I was [thinking] this was enough space for me just to raise up and shoot it for game.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale
George lurched to contest it, and actually got reasonably close as Lillard let it go.
“That’s a bad, bad shot,” George said. “I don’t care what anybody says. That’s a bad shot. But hey, he made it. That story won’t be told that it was a bad shot. We live with that.”
For most anyone else, it probably is. For Lillard, it has become maybe his most lethal. Per Second Spectrum, Lillard is 8-of-12 from 30-plus feet this postseason, compared to 6-of-38 for everyone else.
After Lillard hit it, as he does, he kept it cool, giving a quick glance and a brief wave at the Thunder bench before his teammates mobbed him. It was a contentious series with the Thunder, highlighted by a tense Game 3 in which the trash talk between the teams percolated.