Dame Time anew as Trail Blazers edge Nets
The Portland Trailblazers eked out a thrilling 134-133 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando Thursday to secure the No. 8 seed and barge into the play-in series in the Western Conference.
Lillard scored 42 points to help Portland arrange a showdown with the Memphis Grizzlies, who fell to ninth seed in the West.
Three of Lillard’s 42 points were triples near midcourt.
“The urgency, the energy, the pace, everything, just felt like something was on the line,” Lillard said.
Portland battle Memphis Saturday. Portland only need to win once to advance. Memphis must beat Portland twice to move on.
The winner of the series meets the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
C.J. McCollum added 25 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers.
Joe Harris and Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot had 19 points each for the Nets.
Suns perfect in bubble but still booted out
The Phoenix Suns earned their eighth straight win at the NBA season restart Thursday in Orlando 128-102 by routing the Dallas Mavericks but failed to qualify as the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trailblazers won.
The Suns finished as the only undefeated team in the seeding games.
Luka Doncic scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in 13 minutes of play while Boban Marjanovic had 18 points and 20 rebounds for Dallas, the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference.
Again, Devin Booker shined for the Suns with 27 points, seven boards, and five assists. Dario Saric had 16 points and Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson had 15 each for the Suns.
In other games
The Washington Wizards conquered the Boston Celtics 96-90; the Sacramento Kings blew past the Los Angeles Lakers 136-122; and the Memphis Grizzlies clinched No. 9 seed as it beat the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo, suspended one game for a headbutting incident in their game against the Washington Wizards.
Spurs out of playoffs after 22-season streak
The San Antonio Spurs was ousted from post-season contention Thursday in Orlando and ended a 22-season playoff streak.
Victories by the Memphis Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns and a loss to the Utah Jazz 118-112 eliminated the Spurs.
This means that for the first time since 1997, there won’t be a San Antonio in the playoffs. The Spurs have been eliminated for the first time under coach Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs last failed to barge in the playoffs in the 1996-1997 season. In that season, Kobe Bryant won the All-Star Game dunk contest, LeBron James was 12, Fidel Ramos was the Philippine president, and the country hosted the 1997 Southeast Asian Games.
The Houston Rockets now have the longest playoff streak in the league with eight. (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)