As time expired, Damian Lillard hit a fadeaway 3-pointer to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 123-122 Saturday night win over the Chicago Bulls.
With 44 points on eight 3-pointers, Lillard finished.
After Coby White made a pair of free throws to give them a 122-117 lead with 11.5 seconds remaining, it seemed the Bulls had the game in hand. With 8.2 seconds to play, Lillard came down and shot a long 3-pointer.
The Blazers trapped Zach LaVine in the corner after the inbounds and forced a jump ball with 6.2 seconds remaining. He was able to handle the jump ball over the athletic LaVine by Gary Trent Jr. Lillard picked the loose ball up and shot a 3 to take it from near the baseline.
Lillard said, “I think this one is special because in these situations, where we are down five with I think 11 seconds left, those are moments where the winning team thinks they have the game pretty much wrapped up and the opposing team is discouraged.”
“(The coaching staff) will all tell you I am the most ambitious person in the world. They take me out when we’re down 10 with 15 seconds left and I am coming out of the game (ticked) off. In my head, I play out every situation how we can somehow come out on top. This is special because it usually never works out how I see it in my head.”
With his no-quit mentality, Blazers coach Terry Stotts knows Lillard will always give the Blazers a shot.
Stotts said, “I know what Dame is going to give you. He’s going to give his effort. He never quits. No matter how far we are down he always believes we have a chance to win, and that attitude, that confidence is infectious.”
The Blazers followed it up by blowing a 19-point lead in the third quarter after blowing a 20-point lead in the first half and losing to Chicago at home. In order to give Chicago a 103-101 lead with 7:58 left in the game, Lauri Markkanen and Tomas Satoransky brought the Bulls back with back-to-back 3s.
With 32.1 seconds remaining, LaVine’s 3-pointer put Chicago up 120-115.
Chicago coach Billy Donovan felt referee Dannica Mosher called the jump ball too late.
“It was about as quick as a jump ball as I’ve ever seen. You can’t challenge that. I didn’t think it was a really good call at that point and time,” Donovan said. “Listen, we have to be stronger in those situations. I could’ve helped a little more by possibly calling a timeout to advance the ball.”
For Portland, which is 5-3 on the road, Enes Kanter had 22 points and 11 rebounds. With 18 points, Trent finished.
With eight fast points, Lillard extended a 64-53 halftime lead. To give the Blazers a 75-58 lead with 9:34 left in the third quarter, he hit consecutive 3s, the second one from 33 feet. In that quarter, he finished with 15 points.
Kanter said, “He put the whole teams on his shoulders and did his thing.”
For the Bulls, Markkanen scored 31 points and LaVine had 26.