Lillard emotions after hitting game winner
One shot. One very big shot, has changed the course of a franchise.
Damian Lillard's pure-as-new-snow-in-the-morning three-pointer from 25 feet at the final horn Friday night brought the Trail Blazers from the brink of what could have turned into another depressing playoff performance to an exhilarating series win over the Houston Rockets.
Without that shot, Portland would have been headed back to Houston today to try to win a Game 7 on the road Sunday. Good luck with that. Instead, the Trail Blazers have escaped from a playoff funk that's lasted since 2000. Where will that shot take the Trail Blazers? Nobody knows -- but right now Portland is playing with house money. A series win that included two wins in Houston has taken the pressure off. This team has already surpassed what most people expected of it.
And there's no way, right now, to calculate what that shot -- that beautiful, pressure-packed, arching shot from deep on the left side of the court -- means to this franchise and the players on this team. For the front office, more money from another playoff series? Of course, and a chance for the franchise to finish up in the black for the first time in years. But on the court, that shot -- and resulting win -- means so much more.
Teams shape their personality and their character from wins like this one. This was a series win that can help build a promising future. Confidence and trust are gained. Teams come out of series like this one with experience unlike any other and the sort of self-respect and trust in each other that surviving tough times can bring.
Yes, just one shot. But a great shot -- there hasn't been one that big in these parts for a long, long time.