2019 NBA Playoffs: LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart Among Lakers Who Marveled At Damian Lillard Making Buzzer-Beater To Help Trail Blazers Eliminate Thunder
Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

What had been a thrilling first-round series ended in appropriate fashion on Tuesday night as Damian Lillard drained a 37-foot game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to help the Portland Trail Blazers eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

Lillard’s shot easily stands as the top highlight thus far in the playoffs and will go down as one of the all-time greatest moments. Lillard had his fingerprints all over a back-and-forth Game 5 at Moda Center.

He scored 34 points in the first half to help the Trail Blazers withstand C. J. McCollum landing into early foul trouble. Though Lillard was contained to the tune of 16 points over the final two quarters, he delivered when the Trail Blazers needed him most.

When the Thunder took a lead on Paul George’s jump shot, Lillard came out of a timeout and attacked the basket for a game-tying layup. Russell Westbrook’s drive to rim on Oklahoma City’s next possession produced a missed shot and Portland passed on calling a timeout.

Instead, Lillard dribbled the clock out before stepping back for a remarkable 3-pointer over George’s outstretched arm to give him 50 points. It was the second-series winner of Lillard’s career, as he previously sent Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets home at the buzzer in 2014.

Lillard’s latest shot garnered reaction throughout the league, including from Los Angeles Lakers teammates Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and LeBron James, among others.

While the Lakers were able to appreciate Lillard’s heroics, this marks a sixth consecutive year in which the team has missed the playoffs. Prior to the current drought, the Lakers had only missed the NBA Playoffs five times in the franchise’s history.

Failing to make the playoffs marked a first for James since his second year in the league, and it also snapped his streak of consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals at eight.

The disappointing 2018-19 season has since been accompanied by unexpected upheaval in the front office as Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down as president of basketball operations. Furthermore, the Lakers parted ways with former head coach Luke Walton.