LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Damian Lillard sent Portland into the NBA’s first play-in series with 42 more points and a crucial steal, helping the Trail Blazers escape with a 134-133 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
The Trail Blazers secured the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference only after Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert, who scored 37 points, missed a jumper just before time expired. Portland will play ninth-seeded Memphis on Saturday. If the Grizzlies win, the deciding game would be Sunday.
The winner of the play-in series gets the final spot in the West and a first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston’s James Harden will be the NBA’s scoring champion, the Lakers’ LeBron James is the assist champion, Cleveland’s Andre Drummond won the rebounding title, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons took the steals crown and Portland’s Hassan Whiteside won the blocks title for the second time.
Grizzlies 119, Bucks 106: Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant had triple-doubles and Memphis kept its season alive, beating Milwaukee, which was missing Giannis Antetokounmpo after he was suspended for head-butting an opponent. Dillon Brooks added 31 points as Memphis wrapped up a spot in the play-in tournament to determine the eighth and final seed in the West. Memphis owned the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Phoenix.
Suns 128, Mavericks 102: Devin Booker scored 27 points and Phoenix rolled to finish as the only unbeaten team in the seeding games in Florida. “I’m just really grateful for the effort and the growth of this team,“ Suns coach Monty Williams said.
Jazz 118, Spurs 112: Rayjon Tucker scored 18 points and Utah beat San Antonio, which saw its record-tying run of 22 consecutive postseason appearances end. “Looking at the past doesn’t do much good,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Any success we’ve had has been because we’ve had some great players.”
Kings 136, Lakers 122: Buddy Hield, who scored 28 points, hit a 3-pointer that capped Sacramento’s streak of 11 consecutive baskets made in the third period. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 27 points as the Kings won for only the third time in the NBA restart.