The Portland Trail Blazers earned the place in the play-in round, after defeating the Brooklyn Nets in a highly entertaining finish, 134-133.
Even though they had a 10-point deficit in the third, the Trail Blazers managed to rally back to beat the shorthanded Nets, who created a lot of trouble for them. Many would believe that Portland found a way to deal with the rivals in the second, when they poured 42 points, and created a 73-67 advantage at the halftime, but Brooklyn responded.
Jacque Vaughn’s guys rolled over their opponents in the third, with 37-24, pushing them out of the playoff zone.
Yet, Damian Lillard and the boys found a way to come back into the game, hitting six threes, lots of them early on, and using the momentum to crack down the No.7 in the Eastern Conference.
CJ McCollum scored a jumper for 134-130 with 53.4 seconds to go, but the unstoppable Caris LeVert responded on the other side with a layup plus and-one after being fouled for 134-133. LeVert had a chance to hit a game-winner, but his three-point attempt was off the mark.
Lillard was trashing and bashing the Nets defense with 42 points, and 12 assists, adding 8 threes in 14 attempts as well. CJ McCollum scored 25, grabbed 7 boards, and four assists without a single downtown hit in 6 attempts.
Gary Trent Jr. and Hassan Whiteside were good off the bench, with 16 points each, with the note that Whiteside added 9 boards, five of them offensive and two blocks in 15 minutes on the floor. Jusuf Nurkis had a double-double with 22 buckets and 10 boards.
On the other side, the Nets were led by LeVert, who had 37 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Brooklyn’s shooting guard was 16-for-29 from the field. Joe Harris had 19 points, the same as Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who grabbed 8 rebounds as well.
Garett Temple scored 15, with 10 rebounds, Jarrett Allen 14 with 11, and three rejections.
Brooklyn plays against the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are going against the Memphis Grizzlies, as these two sides finished ninth and eighth, and whoever wins this clash will meet the Los Angeles Lakers. Their first game is this Saturday.
The Blazers had to win this event; otherwise, they would finish the season after Phoenix defeated the Dallas Mavs,