Raptors and 76ers finish off series, will meet in next round
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — 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 3-pointers, breaking the franchise record.
Portland advances 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.
RAPTORS 115, MAGIC 96
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.
It’s the fourth straight year the Raptors have reached the second round.
Leonard made 8 of 11 shots, including 5 of 5 from 3-point range, as the Raptors jumped on Orlando early and never trailed. Leonard also made all six of his free throws. He checked out to cheers of “MVP, MVP” with 8:05 to play and Toronto up 105-75.
D.J. Augustin scored 15 points, Terrence Ross had 12 and Aaron Gordon 11 for the Magic, who won 104-101 on Augustin’s late 3-pointer in Game 1 but never again topped 96 points against Toronto’s dominant defense, and twice finished with 85 or fewer.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds and Ben Simmons added 13 points to help the 76ers rout the Nets and close out their Eastern Conference playoff series in five games.
Any late arrivals missed the defining moments of the game from a jovial Sixers team that enjoyed toying with the sickly Nets.
The Sixers stunned the Nets with a 14-0 run in front of the loudest and rowdiest packed house of the season.
Embiid again shook off a bad left knee and had six points and five rebounds in the first two minutes to chants of “MVP!” The Nets later trailed 20-2, and Simmons put an exclamation point on the stunning first quarter when he drove the paint and used a right-handed jam to make it 32-12 — with a thump of his chest for emphasis.
No starter played more than 27 minutes in a game that could have been called off after the first quarter.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 21 points for the Nets, who head into the offseason after their first playoff series since 2015.
Up 3 games to 2, the Nuggets can wrap up the series Thursday night in San Antonio, where they won last weekend for the first time since 2012, regaining the home-court advantage.
The Nuggets, who posted the best home record in the NBA and ended a six-year playoff drought by earning a surprising second seed in the Western Conference playoffs, finally looked like the team that rolled through the regular season led by All-Star Nikola Jokic and backed up by the best bench in the league.
Jokic had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Denver led by as many 30 points at 99-69, after which their starters took a seat.
Paul Millsap chipped in 14 points as the Nuggets’ most experienced player in the playoffs bounced back from a 4-point performance in Game 4 that ended his streak of 16 consecutive playoff games with double digit scoring.
DeMar DeRozen and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 17 for San Antonio, but Denver dominated this one almost from the tip.
- Damian Lillard
- Denver Nuggets
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Toronto Raptors