For the second straight game, Damian Lillard put a dagger through an Eastern Conference team’s heart.
After a buzzer beater to beat the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Lillard hit the game-winning three against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight with .4 seconds left. The shot capped off another incredible night for the second year man out of Weber State, who scored a game-high 36 points along with 10 assists and eight rebounds.
It was a back and forth game all night between the Trail Blazers and the Cavaliers. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Blazers had a 92-88 edge, but the Cavs came out hot, scoring the first nine points of the final period. With 6:05 left in the quarter, Dion Waiters hit a jumper to tie the game at 101, but then it was Portland’s turn to go on a run. The Blazers went on a 13-3 tear to open up a late 10 point lead.
When all seemed lost for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving scored nine-straight points for his squad and got the game-tying assist on an incredible pass through a triple team to Anderson Verajao for the layup with seven seconds to go, capping off a 12-2 run. After a timeout, Lillard received the inbounds pass at the top of the key and drained a deep three in the face of Alonzo Gee with .4 seconds remaining. Irving had one last attempt that hit the back of the rim and out.
Lillard had entered the game struggling from behind the three-point line of late, hitting just six of his last 22 attempts from behind the line. Tonight he shot 8-12 from beyond the arc. Lamarcus Aldridge also had a big night, scoring 26 points on 11-22 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds for the 22-4, first-place Blazers.
The Cavaliers got a strong performance from Waiters, who scored 25 points on 11-19 shooting with five assists. Irving added 25 points and 10 assists. Both players were key components to the comeback, scoring 20 of their team’s 28 fourth quarter points.
The Blazers dominated in second-chance points and shot 22-25 from the free-throw line, making 11 more from the charity stripe than the Cavs. If you didn’t have a chance to see Lillard’s second straight game-winner, here it is below.