Blazers fans revel in unbelievable, crazy finish

Lillard's winning shot sets off wild celebration

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

Published:

 

PORTLAND — It took nine-tenths of a second to wipe away 14 years of postseason heartbreak.

Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer did more than end the longest playoff series drought in the NBA.

It sent a wave of elation and relief through a Portland Trail Blazers fanbase that has felt cursed.

On a raucous Moda Center concourse Friday, sweat ran down Scott Lewis’ cheeks as he let out bellowing scream.

The Vancouver resident has seen his share of ups and, more recently, downs in the 31 years his family has owned Blazers season tickets.

And when Chandler Parsons put Houston ahead 98-96 when a loose ball fell to him underneath the basket, Lewis feared he had just felt the latest sting of a snake-bitten franchise.

“This would have been devastating to lose that game,” Lewis said. “For Lillard to make a shot like that, in that moment, in that game, you can hardly put it into words. Unbelievable!”

The elation in the Portland locker room matched that happening on the concourse above. Shouts could be heard from the showers.

“It was crazy,” said Wesley Matthews, describing the locker room immediately after the game. “Guys that struggled, didn’t struggle, you would have thought everyone went for 50 tonight.”

On a night that paid homage to Jack Ramsay, who presided over the franchise’s golden age, fans witnessed what might be the most significant single shot in team history.

With Nicolas Batum inbounding on the sideline, Lillard ran off two screens and found an open shot from 25 feet. Though he hadn’t hit a shot in the fourth quarter, Lillard had made five of his previous nine 3-pointers.

Stotts drew up the final play for a second-year player for whom no moment seems too big.

“He’s definitely played older than his years,” LaMarcus Aldridge said of Lillard. “After he made that shot, I didn’t let go of him for about three minutes.”

And the Blazers fanbase will never let go of what they saw Friday in the Moda Center.

“I’m excited for Portland,” Matthews said. “It’s such a prideful fanbase, city and state. I’m excited for them. Be safe tonight, Portland.”