PORTLAND, Ore — It took 14 years, but the Portland Trail Blazers are finally moving forward into the second round of the playoffs.
Damian Lillard hit the dramatic 3-point shot as time expired, as Portland beat the Houston Rockets, 99-98, to win their Western Conference quarterfinal series in six games.
Chandler Parsons gave Houston the seemingly winning shot, a reverse layup off a scramble under the hoop with 0.9 seconds remaining, but the Rockets couldn’t force a Game 7.
Nicolas Batum inbounded the ball to Lillard, whose shot from near the top of the arc over Parsons swished through and set off a wild celebration.
The fifth-seeded Blazers won their first postseason set since May 16, 2000 when they beat Utah in five games in the conference semifinals. They had lost seven consecutive series.
Next up for Portland will be either the Spurs or Mavericks. That first-round series is headed for a seventh game Sunday in San Antonio.
This also marked the first time in four tries the Blazers beat the Rockets in a playoff series.
The Rockets staved off elimination with a 108-98 victory Wednesday, and seemed like they would go back to Houston for a game Sunday.
Lillard, though, came through for the final three of his 25 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and 13 rebounds for Portland.
James Harden had 34 points and Dwight Howard totaled 26 points and 11 boards for Houston. Parsons finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Even with Portland’s victory, there will be a record five Game 7s in the first-round. The only two other series to end early were Miami’s sweep of Charlotte and Washington’s five-game win over Chicago.