Booker’s Late Free Throws Down Red-Hot Blazers

Hello, Blazer fans, Antonio here. The Blazers’ five-game winning streak finally came to an end with a heartbreaking 117-118 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. Free throws were the name of the game, as Devin Booker sank two with 2.4 seconds left to secure the victory for the Suns after Robert Covington missed two on the other end.

In a game brimming with a playoff atmosphere, the Blazers and Suns certainly made for nail-biting TV. Damian Lillard did his normal Damian Lillard things as he scored 24 points in the fourth to finish with 41 overall. The only problem was that the close loss left the Blazers in a precarious position for the playoffs. After a deflating loss, let’s take a closer look.

The Final Call

Well, let’s get this over with.

Bleacher Report on Twitter: “Booker wins the game at the FT line on a controversial call 😨 / Twitter”

Booker wins the game at the FT line on a controversial call 😨

This tough call sealed the game for the Phoenix Suns as Booker drained both free throws. Norman Powell appeared to make minimal contact with Booker, and Terry Stotts used his final timeout to challenge the call. The challenge was unsuccessful, and the Suns came out on top.

I won’t mince words here. This hurt. The call seemed a bit late for the final moments. However, missed free throws and poor execution down the stretch also put Portland in the position to lose on a call. The officials will make mistakes, so it’s tough to put it in their hands rather than your own

Robert Covington Appreciation Post

It’s unfortunate that Robert Covington missed the final two free throws with 5.6 seconds left that allowed the Suns a chance to win, because he had had a phenomenal game up until then. Covington had totaled 16 points on four made threes, as well as four rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Covington came up clutch for the Blazers on multiple occasions, hitting shots right when they needed them. He scored 10 of his 16 in the fourth quarter, including two free throws to put the Blazers up 115-113 with one minute left. Although it might not have been the finish he wanted, RoCo played his heart out and showed why he is the 3-and-D player the Blazers have wanted for so long.

Playoff Seeding

The Blazers’ recent 9-1 streak had shot Portland up to the fifth seed. However, the loss Thursday night has sent them downward in the standings and nearly cemented the Mavericks in the fifth seed. Now sitting in sixth, the Blazers are in danger of slipping to the play-in game. As of now, the Lakers sit in seventh, but they should win their final two games against the Pacers and Pelicans. 

If the Blazers hold on to the sixth seed, they have a date with (likely) the Los Angeles Clippers, who swept Portland this year. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are forces to be reckoned with, and they’ll be hungry to redeem themselves after blowing a 3-1 lead in the Conference Semifinals.

Either way, the road seems tough for the Blazers. All that matters now is the season finale against the Denver Nuggets, where a win secures the six seed. If the Blazers’ season has shown us anything, it’s that any game can be as heart-stopping as possible. We’ll find out Sunday at six.

Next Up: The finale against the Nuggets.

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