If Damian Lillard wasn’t a household name already, he certainly made his case as one Friday night.
Lillard, with his team down 98-96, drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Trail Blazers past the Rockets and into the Western Conference semifinals.
The shot just adds to some of the most memorable buzzer-beaters in the pros or college from Utah-related basketball players.
Lillard’s shot instantly became a classic. After Portland hadn’t made an outside shot in the fourth quarter, Lillard didn’t hesitate firing a 3 as time expired. The Weber State alum averaged 25.5 points per game in his first career NBA postseason series and capped it off with this gem Friday.
The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year has averaged 19.9 points in his two NBA seasons and is showing the NBA world why he’s Adidas’ newest $100 million man.
Before Lillard’s thrilling game-winner Friday night, Stockton was the last NBA player to hit a buzzer-beater to clinch a playoff series for a team. Stockton received an inbounds pass with 2.8 seconds left in the 1997 Western Conference Finals, and canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer to down Houston, 103-100.
However, the Jazz had no answers for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, falling in six games that year.
Ainge's iconic shot against Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament helped BYU advance to the Elite Eight, the furthest the Cougars have ever gone in the Big Dance.
With eight seconds left and BYU trailing by a point, Ainge took the inbounds pass, dribbled right, then crossed back to the middle of the court, weaving through Irish defenders. Eventually, he took on, and beat, every Notre Dame defender and sliced his way to the hoop for the game-winning layup with two seconds remaining, and the Irish couldn't get a good shot up to counter.
Van Horn hit game-winning shots in back-to-back games during the 1997 WAC tournament to help propel the Utes to an eventual tournament title. Van Horn first tipped in a lob pass with 0.3 seconds left to beat SMU in the quarterfinals, before downing a shot at the buzzer the next day, as Utah defeated New Mexico in the semifinals.
The Utes went on to be a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and ended up advancing to the Elite Eight that year.
There wasn’t a playoff game or a championship on the line, but Cusick’s buzzer-beater versus Utah State in 2013 certainly was a feel-good moment. Cusick lifted the Cougars past the Aggies at the horn on the same day he learned his father had been diagnosed with cancer.
“… That's just why it makes it a really special day for us, to have my family here, all in town, and to be able to end the game like that,” Cusick told KSL after the game. “I know he was excited to watch the game in the hospital bed, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to be here."
At the time, Robinson had no ties to Utah when he hit this memorable buzzer-beater to keep Stanford’s perfect season alive during the 2004 season. Robinson, who now coaches the Southern Utah University basketball team, stole the ball from Arizona in the waning moments of a tight Pac-12 matchup and hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Wildcats and lead to a dogpile on the court. Tiger Woods was also impressed that day.