Blazers take 3-1 series lead after road win over Thunder

Trail Blazers Take Control In Third Quarter To Take 3-1 Lead Versus Thunder

He entered the playoffs with the whole world expecting a war between two of the best point guards of the current generation, and he came out and annihilated his rival so badly that the war looked over after the first two games.

Fans throughout Portland, Oregon and beyond have been celebrating Damian Lillard's game-winning 37-foot three-pointer that took down the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night and catapulted the Portland Trail Blazers into the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.

Lillard is the story of the playoffs so far, and to explain what makes this so enjoyable, context is important. But externally, and particularly after their playoff sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans last season, it appeared most were ready to write off this team altogether. Overall, the Thunder shot 15-of-29 from beyond the arc, easily combining for more triples than the first two games combined (10). Lillard was a chore, however, as he scored an incredible 34 points in 24 first half minutes, mostly in isolation situations or while being trapped and always off of a few dribbles first. Tip my hat to the shots he made, tough ones.

On a night, where Maurice Harkless was ejected from the game after fouling out and the officials felt that he needed to be tossed after throwing his headband, Harkless had a little trouble falling asleep too.

"Sometime when we wanted to blitz Paul George and trap him it was softer than we needed it to be". The effect was an ability to switch on Lillard with Grant or trap him with Adams, denying Portland the ability to get rolls for baskets at the rim or drive and kick opportunities for Lillard.

And his wave to Thunder players.

"Rotations were good, we were doing some real good contests". "And I was just waving goodbye to them".

Five years ago, in Game 6 against the Rockets, Lillard received an inbounds pass from Nicolas Batum with 0.9 seconds on the clock and buried a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to give Portland a 99-98 victory. Once again, George was saddled with 3 fouls and this time had to miss the final 5:45 of the half. The Blazers came back and won 53 games, role players stepped up all year long, and Portland was so reliably excellent that the team flew under the radar for most of the season. "That was having the last word".

George added 22, a 14-of-17 performance from the free-throw line overcoming a 3-for-16 effort from the field.

The Thunder had a two point lead heading into the final quarter. Down 3-1 in the series the Thunder was really on the ropes, but its response was remarkable.

If Westbrook wants to prove he's better than Lillard, he should be doing it the one way that matters; getting wins on the NBA's biggest stages. As Tramel has discussed in the past, that usually leads to a single answer from Westbrook: "Next question". Portland outscored the Thunder 26-8 the rest of the way. After Game 1, he said he talked with Donovan after the infamous "Can't play him" quote and accepted his coach's explanation. We was just like, OK. And we kept our composure.

"We didn't do the things we were supposed to do". Even if it was from 37 feet.

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