Damian Lillard scored 42 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers escaped with a 134-133 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night near Orlando to clinch the eighth seed in the Western Conference and a berth in the play-in series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Following games of 51 and 61 points, Lillard helped Portland (35-39) clinch by scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer from the edge of the NBA logo at halfcourt. He produced his 11th game of at least 40 points this season by shooting 13 of 22, including 8 of 14 on 3-point attempts.
Portland will host the ninth-seeded Grizzlies on Saturday, needing just one win to ensure a playoff berth. If the Blazers lose, the teams will play again Sunday, with the winner claiming the final playoff spot. The winner will draw the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
Lillard’s biggest play down the stretch actually came on the defensive end. Portland took a 134-130 lead on a jumper by C.J. McCollum with 53.4 seconds left, after Lillard poked the ball from behind while defending Caris LeVert just past midcourt. LeVert responded with a 3-point play to get within one, but his step-back attempt to win it just before the buzzer was short.
Memphis Grizzlies 119 -- Milwaukee Bucks 106
Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant each recorded a triple-double, helping Memphis gain a spot in the NBA play-in game with a victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee.
Dillon Brooks led all scorers with 31 points for the Grizzlies (34-39), who will be the ninth seed in the West and must beat the Trail Blazers twice to reach the postseason.
The Bucks (56-17) had already clinched the top seed in the East. They will open the playoffs Tuesday against eighth-seeded Orlando.
Phoenix Suns 128 -- Dallas Mavericks 102
Devin Booker scored 23 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, and Phoenix completed an unexpected undefeated run through the NBA bubble with a victory over Dallas.
The Suns finished their bubble experience as the only undefeated team among all participants, going an improbable 8-0, but their season is over after the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies both won. The Mavericks head into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the West, where they’ll face the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers starting Monday.
Dario Saric added 16 points, Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne each had 15 and Ricky Rubio dished out 12 assists for the Suns. Booker watched the fourth quarter from the bench.
Utah Jazz 118 -- San Antonio Spurs 112
Rayjon Tucker led eight Jazz players in double figures with a career-high 18 points as Utah ended the Spurs’ season in the final regular-season game for both teams.
Jarrell Brantley had 13 points, Nigel Williams-Goss chipped in 10 -- both hit double figures for the first time in their NBA careers -- and Ed Davis had a season-high 11 points and six rebounds before leaving with a knee injury for Utah.
Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 24 points. San Antonio -- which needed at least two of Portland, Memphis and Phoenix to lose -- will miss the postseason for the first time since 1997, snapping a streak of 22 straight seasons of playing in the NBA playoffs. Utah, the sixth-seed, will open the postseason on Monday against third-seeded Denver.
Washington Wizards 96 -- Boston Celtics 90
Thomas Bryant scored 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead Washington to its first win in the NBA bubble, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Celtics (48-24) are already locked into the No. 3 seed, and a matchup against the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, in the East. Boston rested all five starters, while Javonte Green led the way with 23 points.
Washington broke the game’s ninth, and final, tie with 6:02 left and never trailed again. The Wizards also received 17 points and a game-high eight assists from Troy Brown Jr., and Ish Smith added 11 points.
Orlando Magic 133 -- New Orleans Pelicans 127
Nikola Vucevic scored 23 points, and Orlando tuned up for the playoffs with a victory over New Orleans, as a pair of short-handed teams concluded their seeding schedule.
The eighth-seeded Magic ended a five-game losing streak in their final game before opening their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against top-seeded Milwaukee on Tuesday.
D.J. Augustin added 22 points, James Ennis scored 16, Wes Iwundu had 15, Markelle Fultz had 11 and Melvin Frazier and Vic Law 10 each. Frank Jackson led New Orleans with 31 points, rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 29 points, Josh Hart added 23 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and rookie Jaxson Hayes scored 13 points.
Sacramento Kings 136 -- Los Angeles Lakers 122
Buddy Hield scored 28 points, and Sacramento capped its season with a victory over Los Angeles.
Bogdan Bogdanovic had 27 points, nine assists and six rebounds, while Nemanja Bjelica contributed 15 points, 13 assists and eight boards for the Kings. Jabari Parker added 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds and Cory Joseph chipped in 13 points.
Dion Waiters led the Lakers with 19 points. LeBron James finished with 17 points and four assists in 15 minutes. He left the contest late in the second quarter and did not return. Markieff Morris had 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers.
--Field Level Media
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