Friday night Damian Lillard hit one of the biggest shots in Trail Blazers history to eliminate the Houston Rockets. A 25 foot three pointer fading to his left to beat the buzzer. It brings to mind a young Michael Jordan hitting the game winner against Cleveland in the first round of the 1989 NBA playoffs. Jordan was also moving to his left and had to hang in the air to get the shot off. In both cases Lillard and Jordan were mobbed by their teammates:
Jordan series winner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5WUOnTxwPw
Lillard series winner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2GJ2PwXQ4E
After Jordan's shot he made his immortal celebratory leap and fist pump. After Lillard's shot he turned and made his now signature game winner face, the same look he gave after his regular season Cleveland and New Orleans game winning shots. The Manning Face has become synonymous with defeat (http://www.manningface.com/), I believe the Lillard face will become emblematic of triumph.
Let's not forget the incredible games by LaMarcus Aldridge to steal two games on the road to start the series. In LaMarcus' 46 point 18 rebound game 1 performance he hit a three in the 4th quarter as the Blazers came back, an improbable tip in with Dwight Howard hanging on him to tie the game and send it to overtime, and another three in overtime as the Blazers once again came back on the Rockets. This game, followed by Aldridge's 43 points in game 2, put the Rockets on their heels and they never recovered. Again LaMarcus' clutch tip in and three pointers echo of another historic shot, Tim Duncan hitting a three in over time of game 1 against Phoenix in 2008:
Duncan three: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trdsKp94Io0
Aldridge threes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWoTuAS2uxg
The book on Aldridge, Lillard, and the Blazers is not yet finished this season. Jordan and Duncan's shots were made greater by the number of championships they won. Both players were surrounded by great teams, and the truly exciting part of the Houston series is that Matthews, Batum, Lopez, Williams, and Wright all had many great moments on the way to victory. I think we can all expect many more thrilling moments from the Blazers before this postseason is finished.