Portland, OR, United States (4E Sports) – Rookie Damian Lillard sank a three-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining to lift the Portland Trail Blazers past the New Orleans Hornets, 95-94, Sunday at Rose Garden.
The Blazers led by as many as 16 points in the third period but the Hornets tied the game at 92 on Austin Rivers’ three-pointer with 42 seconds left.
After a timeout, Lillard received a bounce pass with 4.2 seconds left and made a 26-foot three-pointer over the outstretched arms of Rivers.
With 0.3 seconds left, the Hornets inbounded to Lance Thomas, who converted a meaningless layup at the buzzer for the final tally.
“When I let it go, I got it over the top of (defender Austin Rivers’) hands. I was like, ‘That looks good. That’s going in,” said Lillard, who scored 16 points.
“We bent, but we didn’t break. I was pleased with that. After we got the lead to 16, we had some loose possessions. We could have pushed our lead a little bit more. That bit us as the game went forward,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
J.J. Hickson collected 24 points and 16 rebounds for the Trail Blazers (11-12), who won their third straight.
Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge left in the final seconds with a sprained left ankle after scoring 20 points but X-rays were negative.
Nicolas Batum finished with 11 points, 10 assists, five steals and five blocked shots in 42 minutes to become the first Portland player with at least 10 assists, five steals and five blocks in a game since Jamaal Tinsley in November 2001.
Ryan Anderson scored 26 points, including seven three-pointers, and Greivis Vasquez contributed 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Hornets, who dropped their seventh straight.
Top rookie pick Anthony Davis scored 15 points off the bench in his third game back from a left ankle injury.
The Blazers led by 69-53 midway through the third quarter but Anderson and Vasquez carried the fight for the Hornets and tied the game in the dying seconds before Lillard’s heroic.
“We put ourselves in a hole in the first half with turnovers, giving them easy buckets, and we had a couple of guys who just didn’t give us much tonight. But we had a group of guys in the second half who competed, and we played hard,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.