PORTLAND, Ore. -- Guard Damian Lillard's 3-point shot at the buzzer gave the PORTLAND Trail Blazers a 99-98 victory over the Houston Rockets Friday night to send the Trail Blazers into the Western Conference semifinals.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge collected 30 points and 13 rebounds and Lillard added 25 points as the Blazers closed out the Rockets in six games. PORTLAND will face the winner of the San Antonio-Dallas series, which stands tied at 3-3.
Harden scored 24 points to stake Houston to a two-point halftime lead, sinking 5 of 8 shots from the field, 4 of 5 from 3-point range and 10 of 10 from the foul line. Aldridge had 21 points and seven rebounds at the break for the Blazers.
Forward Thomas Robinson scored a pair of baskets to give PORTLAND an 85-81 lead with nine minutes left. The Blazers led 91-87 before Howard made 4 of 4 at the line to tie it at 91-91, then scored on a layup to give Houston a 93-91 lead with three minutes to play.
Guard Wesley Matthews made 1 of 2 at the line to make it 93-92, and center Robin Lopez's tip-in gave PORTLAND a 94-93 advantage with 2:10 to play. But Howard scored on a put-back, then converted a three-point play to push the Rockets ahead 96-94 with 1:47 to go.
On Houston's next possession, Howard and Harden missed shots, but the Rockets retained possession when Lillard grabbed the rebound after stepping in-bounds. The Rockets worked the clock, and Harden's shot bounced off the rim to Parson, who converted a reverse layup to give the visitors the lead with 0.9 on the clock.
Harden scored 11 points in first 5 1/2 minutes to stake Houston to a 15-13 lead. The Rockets increased the advantage to 27-17 late in the first quarter. The Blazers responded with an 8-0 run and closed the gap to 29-28 on a Lillard 3-pointer as the first quarter ended.
PORTLAND took the lead at 34-32 on a jumper by Robinson early in the second quarter. The Rockets went back on top 48-42, but PORTLAND answered with a 7-0 spurt to go in front 49-48 with 3:25 left in the quarter. Houston, using 16 fast-break points to full advantage, took a 58-56 lead into the half.
NOTES: PORTLAND F LaMarcus Aldridge who averaged 35.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in the first four games but was held to eight points and eight rebounds in game 5. It was the second time all season Aldridge was held to single-digit scoring. ... Houston's biggest advantage in the series has been on the boards. Heading into game 6, the Rockets had outrebounded PORTLAND by an average of six a game while averaging more than 17 offensive board per contest. ... Houston G Patrick Beverley, limited to 21 minutes in game 5 as he struggled with a bout of the flu, is much better and was in the starting lineup Friday. Beverley shared minutes with G Jeremy Lin, who had his best game of the series Wednesday with 21 points on 9-for-15 shooting. ... The victory gave the Trail Blazers their first playoff series victory since 2000, which was the longest such drought in the Western Conference. ... Heading into Friday, the teams had split 10 meetings this season. Houston's 108-98 victory on Wednesday was the first time either team had been held under 100 points.