Lillard’s 3-point basket with three-tenths of a second remaining gave Portland a 95-94 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night at the Rose Garden.
The win came after the Hornets rallied from a 16-point, third-quarter deficit to tie the game at 92-92 on Austin Rivers’ 3-pointer with 42 seconds left.
Each team failed to score on a subsequent possession, and Portland (11-12) wound up with the ball with 4.2 seconds left. After a timeout, Lillard inbounded to Luke Babbitt, who handed the ball to Lillard, and the rookie point guard launched a 28-foot shot that swished through the net.
“When I let it go, I got it over the top of (Rivers’) hands,” said Lillard, who scored 16 points. “I was like, ‘That looks good. That’s going in.’”
After a timeout, the Hornets inbounded, and Lance Thomas converted a meaningless layup at the buzzer.
J.J. Hickson collected 24 points and 16 rebounds for Portland, which won its third consecutive game. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points before leaving in the final seconds with a sprained left ankle. Nicolas Batum added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers.
Ryan Anderson scored 26 points, and Greivis Vasquez contributed 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for New Orleans, which lost its seventh in a row.
The Blazers’ lead was 69-53 midway through the third period, but Anderson and Vasquez led a late rally that brought the Hornets even.
Aldridge sank a 12-foot baseline jumper to push the Blazers in front 92-89 with 1:04 to go.
After Rivers’ tying 3-pointer, Lillard missed a 3-point try with 28 seconds left, and the Hornets (5-18) rebounded. Vasquez missed a driving layup, and the Blazers rebounded and called time with 11.3 seconds left. The Hornets had a foul to give, and Vasquez intentionally fouled Lillard with 4.2 seconds to play. That set up the game-winning play.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “I was pleased with that. We got the lead to 16 and had some loose possessions. We could have pushed our lead a little bit more. That bit us as the game went forward.”