LOS ANGELES: The Portland Trail Blazers closed out the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers in six games on Friday night, while the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat both lived to fight another day.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 46 points to lead the Trail Blazers past the Clippers 106-103 at Portland’s Moda Center.
Lillard scored 26 points and McCollum added 20 as the Trail Blazers closed out the Clippers in six games in their first-round NBA playoff series.
Indiana overpowered the Toronto Raptors in the second half of the game to stay alive and level their series 3-3 with a 101-83 victory.
The Heat also bought themselves more postseason time with a 97-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to even their East series at three games all.
Mason Plumlee contributed nine points—including the deciding three free throws in the final 14.7 seconds—and grabbed 14 rebounds for Portland, which opens second round Sunday at Golden State against the Warriors.
“I was really happy with the way we executed down the stretch. We did the things necessary to win the game,” Lillard said.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench for a career playoff-high 32 points for the Clippers, but missed on a driving layup that could have tied the game in the closing seconds.
Austin Rivers collected 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds while DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 20 boards for the losers. River needed 11 stitches around his eye after taking an elbow in the face in the first quarter while going for a rebound. He left for repairs before returning in the second quarter.
Clippers blamed the loss on the injuries to star guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin as they joined the Boston Celtics (1990-93) as the only teams eliminated in four straight playoffs after having series leads.
“You can only control so many things and injuries is something you can’t control. If you took off the two best players from any team in the league they would struggle,” said Crawford.
Pacers catch fire in fourth quarter
Paul George had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who forced a decisive game seven on Sunday in Toronto.
After leading 65-64 late in the third quarter, Indiana used a 32-5 surge to increase its lead to 97-69 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter in front of a crowd of 18,100 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena in Indianapolis.
The Pacers scored the fourth quarter’s first six points and led 77-64 with 10:38 remaining as the Raptors called a timeout. The run became 12-0 for an 83-64 advantage as Indiana shot 64 percent from the field in the second half.
Rookie Myles Turner had 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, Monta Ellis scored 14 and George Hill and Ian Mahinmi each scored 12.
Cory Joseph had 15 for Toronto, DeMarre Carroll also scored 15, Jonas Valanciunas tallied 14 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Lowry scored 10.
Indiana opened the third quarter with a 15-6 run and scored the third quarter’s final six points to lead 71-64 heading into the fourth.
The Pacers outscored the Raptors 31-20 in the third quarter and outrebounded Toronto 12-5 in the period.
Dwyane Wade scored 23 points and hit two clutch shots in the final minute for the Heat, who led by as many as 13 in the first half and 12 in the second thanks to 60 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Game seven is scheduled for Sunday in Miami.
The Heat also got 21 points from Luol Deng, 14 from Goran Dragic, 12 from Hassan Whiteside and 11 from Joe Johnson, who capped the scoring with two free throws with five seconds remaining. AFP