Damian draws the winning points again

Lillard hits three free throws with one second left in 125-122 win
Staff Report
AP photo

Damian Lillard missed the decisive shot again Thursday night in Miami, but ... he got fouled in the process and made the free throws in a 125-122 win.

So, Damian did it again, just not the ESPN-highlight way.

Lillard made three free throws with one second remaining for the final margin, and the Trail Blazers survived a wild ending to beat the short-handed Miami Heat 125-122 on Thursday night.

Lillard made a pair of free throws with one second left in a 125-124 win over New Orleans, March 16.

Lillard scored 22 points to go along with CJ McCollum’s return to form with 35 points in the win on the road.

Lillard was fouled by Miami’s Trevor Ariza on a 3-point attempt, which the Heat argued to no avail. He coolly sank all three foul shots, and the Blazers snapped a two-game slide.

“Sometimes I might have it going, but he’s the closer,” McCollum said of Lillard.

Miami didn’t have a time-out remaining to advance the ball and couldn’t get a desperation attempt to tie the game off before time expired.

McCollum had 21 of his game-high 35 points in the first quarter for Portland, which got 22 points from Lillard, 20 points from Carmelo Anthony and 18 points to go along with 16 rebounds from Enes Kanter.

Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro each had 29 points for Miami, which dropped its fifth straight and fell to 22-23. Kendrick Nunn scored 22 for the Heat.

Portland stayed in sixth place in the Western Conference, but is tied with Denver for fifth at 26-28 overall. That’s only 1.5 games behind the struggling Los Angeles Lakers heading into a game at Orlando Friday night.

A combination of trades, illness, injury and virus-related issues left the Heat with nine players for the game.

Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica have yet to join the club after being acquired earlier Thursday in moves that sent Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley to Houston, plus Chris Silva and Moe Harkless to Sacramento. The other Heat absences: Jimmy Butler was sick, Goran Dragic has a back issue and Udonis Haslem and KZ Okpala remain in the league’s health and safety protocols.

Portland took a 100-99 lead with 7:57 left on a 3-pointer by Anthony. To that point, neither team had been up by more than eight all night.

Miami then went on an 11-0 run to take a 110-100 lead, with Gabe Vincent, Andre Iguodala and Herro all making 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Herro adding a pair of free throws to cap the spurt.

Portland answered with an 11-0 run of its own, taking the lead back on a layup by Lillard with 3:48 left.

Back and forth they went the rest of the way, with some team either taking the lead or pulling into a tie eight times in the final 1:44. Lillard got the call from referee Brian Forte at the end, and Portland got the win.

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