The end began with Russell Westbrook missing a tough, contested layup. The game tied at 115-all at that point and Westbrook’s miss handed the final possession of this ‘Win or Go Home’ game to Portland, with the shot-clock turned off. Portland leading the series 3-1, playing in front of a raucous home crowd at the Moda Center, and had a chance to end the series. They just needed one point, and they had about 18 seconds to score it.
The ball ended up with Damian Lillard, the hottest hand all series. Lillard had been scintillating against the Thunder, averaging 33 points per game on 46 per cent shooting. He got absurdly dangerous, reaching what the NBA now knows as the unofficial “Steph Curry Zone”. His efficiency from centre-court and within had earned him the nickname “Logo Lilliard”.
In Game 5, Lillard had already scored 47. And with the final seconds of the game ticking down, there seemed to no second thoughts in his mind. Guarding him Paul George, one of the best perimeter defenders that the association had to offer. Lillard ignored him. Hence, the distance was about 37 feet, far behind the three-point line. Lillard ignored that. Teammates ahead of him cut into the lane and made room for a pass or a drive. Therefore, he didn’t need it.
Time ticked down. Lillard dribbled, dribbled. Looked at George. Looked at the basket. The buzzer had sounded. Lillard had his 26th three of the series. He had 50 points. However, he had pushed the game score to 118-115 and the series score to 4-1. He sent the Thunder home. He waved goodbye.