For 47 minutes and 59.1 seconds, the Houston Rockets had done everything they could to stay alive on the road and force a decisive Game 7 back home.
The Portland Trail Blazers only needed that 0.9 seconds to shatter their dreams and make their own come true.
Damian Lillard hit a deep three off an inbounds play with 0.9 seconds remaining to win the game and send the Blazers to their first second-round series since the 2000 playoffs.
The sold-out crowd descended into chaos as Lillard’s shot splashed home. The second-year guard has had a long-running history of hitting big shots in late-game situations, hitting a pair of back-to-back game-winners this season.
Lillard’s three came after Chandler Parsons lucked into an offensive rebound on the previous play to break a 96-96 tie and score with time running out.
The shot by Lillard marked the end of a frenetic fourth quarter that neither side took control of. Any time one team took a four-point lead, their opponent would haul them right back in.
Lillard had 25 points while LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 and 13 boards, though was held in check for most of the fourth quarter. Robin Lopez scored eight straight Portland points in the final frame as he had 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Dwight Howard had the kind of fourth quarter we haven’t seen since his Orlando days, scoring 12 straight for Houston as he either bullied his way to the rim and scored or was fouled and knocked down free-throws. Howard had 26 points and 11 rebounds.
James Harden has struggled all series from deep but hit his first three attempts from behind the arc and finished 4-6, part of a 9-15 shooting effort yielding 34 points.
Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge: 30 points, 10-26 FGS, 13 rebounds
Damian Lillard: 25 points, 8-14 FGS, 6-10 3 FGS
Robin Lopez: 12 points, 5-10 FGS, 7 rebounds
James Harden: 34 points, 9-15 FGS, 12-12 FTS
Dwight Howard: 26 points, 10-18 FGS, 11 rebounds
Chandler Parsons: 16 points, 7-17 FGS, 12 rebounds
The Portland Trail Blazers win the series 4-2.