Rip City! 3-pointer at buzzer blasts Blazers past Rockets
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Damian Lillard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Portland Trail Blazers stunned the Houston Rockets 99-98 to take their playoff series in six games and advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in 14 years.
In the raucous postgame celebration, Lillard took the public address microphone and shouted "Rip City!"
Portland, making its first playoff appearance since 2011, had been eliminated in the first round in its last six trips, and hadn't advanced to the second round since 2000.
Dwight Howard's layup and foul shot put the Rockets up 96-94 before Nicolas Batum's fadeaway jumper tied it again with 39.9 seconds left. Chandler Parsons scored on a reverse layup with 0.9 seconds left to give Houston the lead before Lillard won it.
Portland will face the winner of the series between San Antonio and Dallas.
Earlier in the night, the team honored former coach Jack Ramsay with a moment of silence and a touching video tribute Friday night during Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
Ramsay, who led the Blazers to their lone NBA championship in 1977, died Monday at age 89 after a long battle with cancer. His funeral was held on Thursday in Naples, Florida.
The Hall of Famer was beloved in Oregon, known for his attention-grabbing sportcoats and penchant for flashy sports cars.
"To be able to coach the same team as he did, to be able to sit in the same seat on the bench that he did, that means a lot to me," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game.
With Game 5 in Houston, Portland had not played at home since his death.
During the game, a spotlight was trained on the banner that bears Ramsay's name in the rafters of the Moda Center. The crowd's cheers drowned out the public address announcer who listed Ramsay's achievements before the moment of silence.
In honor of his memory, the Blazers players wore plaid patches in a nod to those sportcoats with the words "Dr. Jack 77" on their uniforms.
Ramsay already looms large at the former Rose Garden. In addition to his own banner, the Blazers recently opened "Dr. Jack's," a restaurant that serves fans on game nights.
The Blazers are also seeking to rename a street in the Rose quarter after the legendary coach. The team and Portland Commissioner Steve Novick plan to introduce a resolution at the City Council meeting next week to make "Ramsay Way" official.
"Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and I believe this is a perfect way to salute Jack Ramsay," Novick said. "I have owed Dr. Jack a huge debt of gratitude since June 5, 1977, when, as a kid in Cottage Grove, I watched Oregon's team claim the NBA title. It is an honor to have a chance to pay him a proper tribute."
Before his basketball career, was a Navy captain, and earned a Ph.D. He was also a devout Catholic.
Ramsay led the Trail Blazers from 1976-86, guiding the team over the Philadelphia 76ers for the 1977 NBA championship. Overall, he was 864-783 in his NBA career. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 1990, Ramsay became a television analyst for the Miami Heat. He worked as NBA analyst for ESPN Radio from 1996-2013.
Stotts has a quote by Ramsay hanging in his office: "Teams that play together beat those teams with superior players who play more as individuals."
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press