Lillard’s 37-foot buzzer-beater seals Blazers’ NBA playoff series over Thunder

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Damian Lillard hit a 37-footer at the buzzer and finished with career playoff-high 50 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder from the playoffs in five games with a 118-115 victory on Tuesday night.

With the game tied, Lillard dribbled just inside of halfcourt near the Blazers logo and then pulled up and hit the game-winner. Lillard waved goodbye to the Thunder bench after nailing the shot, then was promptly mobbed by his teammates. As the Thunder left the floor, Lillard circled the court, high-fiving fans. The crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!” Lillard had 10 three-pointers, breaking the franchise record.

“That was the last word,” Lillard said after the game. “That was having the last word.”

Portland advance to the Western Conference semifinals to face the winner of the series between the Nuggets and San Antonio. Denver won 108-90 earlier in the night to take a 3-2 lead in that series.

It was the 12th straight road playoff loss for the Thunder, who have been eliminated in the opening round for three straight seasons. Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists for his 10th career playoff triple-double and his second of the series. Paul George added 36 points.

Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points, Pascal Siakam added 24 and the Raptors used another stifling defensive effort to beat the Magic, winning their first-round playoff series in five games. Kyle Lowry scored 14 points as the Raptors finished off the Magic with ease, bouncing back from a Game 1 defeat to win by double-digits in three of the next four. Toronto led by as many as 37 in the clincher, their biggest-ever margin in a playoff game. 

The Raptors will next play the Philadelphia 76ers, who also booked their place in the next round on Tuesday night. Joel Embiid scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds and Ben Simmons added 13 points to help the 76ers rout the Brooklyn Nets and close out their series in five games.