Damian Lillard opened and closed this first round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder with two unbelievable three point shots at the Moda Center. The Portland Trail Blazers now progress to face either the Denver Nuggets or San Antonio Spurs, while the Thunder start their offseason earlier than they would have liked. Following an amazing buzzer beating shot, both coaches and players fronted the NBA world to give their thoughts on the game and the series.
Donovan lamented plays and calls that could have gone the other way but paid tribute to Lillard’s shooting, particularly the last shot.
“But he [Lillard] made some really tough shots ... the shots that he made epitomised the last shot of the game. Those were the kind of shots he made throughout the first half.”
“I knew it was going to go up [the shot] because I was kinda watching the clock because I was watching the way the floor was balanced along the base line.”
“Once it got to about two and a half seconds I’m like OK he’s shooting this because he doesn’t have time to go anywhere else.”
Stotts, unprompted, opened up with “the legend grows” in reference to Lillard and his shot.
“Damian’s performance was probably the best performance I’ve seen in person.”
“He’s special, he’s in a class of his own, if Steph Curry does that people don’t think much of it. But for people who have not seen us play much, Dame has had a special year.
“I didn’t mind the shot because it was a tied score ... if we did go to overtime I liked our chances. When it got down to four or five [seconds], I kinda knew what was going to happen.”
Talking about Enes Kanter’s injury.
“His shoulder was bothering him he played through pain ... the toughness he showed, i think it’s a little indicative of our team the fact that everybody does what they can to get a win.”
On Jusuf Nurkic’s arrival late in the game.
“I was told that we were down eight when he showed up, so he’s got a plus eight, actually more than that, we won by three right, so plus 11.”
“No one knew he was going to show up and honestly i think we fed off that.”
On his injury.
“It happened in the first quarter and I bumped into Steven and they said it was separation or something and at half time we did an injection, I just tried to play through it.”
“I’m definitely going to play through it [in the second round]”
“I’ve played with some amazing players but Dame is definitely number one.”
“When the shot left his hand i was like you know what that’s going in because we all believe in him.”
“Of course I’d like to thank the Knicks for waiving me ... I’d also like to appreciate all the other teams that didn’t pick me.”
“It was a great feeling, when it left my hands it felt good”
“I didn’t want to put it in the referee’s hands ... so i was standing there looking at the rim and saying this is a comfortable range.”
“I’m just going to pound, dribble, side step and raise up, i just had to let it fly.”
“There’s been a lot of back and forth, a lot of talking all this stuff and that was the last word.”
On his wave to the Thunder bench at the end of the game
“The series was over and I was just waving goodbye to them. After Game 3, Dennis Schroder was out there pointing to his wrist and they were out there doing all their celebrations and we kept our composure.”
“After one win that was what they decided to do and we’re like OK what we want to do is win four games and when we win those four games there’s not going to be anything else to talk about and that’s what that was.”
Comparing it to the 2014 buzzer beater against Houston
“It was a little bit different, in that game we were down by two, there was less time, that time I broke the play ... and tonight this is the way it was set up.”
“This performance definitely ranks towards the top, probably the top ... he carried the load offensively while trying to guard Russ, he was attacking every possession”
“His stamina, his ability to hit tough shots off the dribble, finishing around the basket.”
“For the last play, I said ‘you want the ball, right?’, he said ‘yeah’, I said, ‘alright, go get it’.”
On the emotion of the win
“To win in that type of fashion, down 15, just goes to show what we’ve gone through this season. Mr Allen passing away, injuries, getting swept last year, a lot of stuff that we went through, just shows the type of character we have as a unit.”
On the result
“It’s very disappointing.”
“My process is always look at myself first and see what I could have done better.”
On Lillard’s shot
“It’s a tough shot, a tough shot, you live with it.”
“Tip my hat off to the shots he made.”
“That’s a bad shot, I don’t care what anybody says, that’s a bad shot but hey he made it, the story will be told, you live with that.”
On his shoulder
“We’ll approach it this summer and come back healthy next year.”