PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers clinched a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season after the Denver Nuggets lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 106-105, on Sunday afternoon.
The Blazers came into Sunday's game needing a Nuggets loss or a Blazers win to clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook scored eight unanswered points in the final 47 seconds of Sunday's game, nailing a 40-foot 3-pointer as time expired to eliminate the Nuggets. The superstar guard also had 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his 42nd triple-double of the season, breaking a 55-year-old NBA record.
This season, Westbrook is averaging 31.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
After Sunday's the game, several Blazers players made it clear they were paying close attention to Sunday's game, taking to Twitter to praise and thank Westbrook.
Russ MVP bro. 👀— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 9, 2017
Thanks Russ ... you the real MVP ✊🏾— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) April 9, 2017
History ! MVP— Jusuf Nurkić (@bosnianbeast27) April 9, 2017
Thanks Russ 👌🏼— Pat Connaughton (@PlanetPat5) April 9, 2017
WOW what a game ... @russwest44 congrats on making history— Maurice Harkless (@moe_harkless) April 9, 2017
Russ for MVP lol— Evan Turner (@thekidet) April 9, 2017
It wasn't an easy path back to the playoffs for the Blazers. The team started the season strong, winning seven of its first 11 games. But from Nov. 15 through Feb. 28, the Blazers won only 17 of their next 48 games. Portland was 24-35 and the season looked lost.
The Blazers turned their season around, starting in March. Led by a rejuvenated Damian Lillard and new acquisition Jusuf Nurkic, Portland won 16 of its next 21 games to march back into the playoff picture.
The Blazers are currently 40-40 and have two games left this season, both at home, on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs and Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
MORE KGW BLAZERS COVERAGE
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- Blazers reach Top 10 in NBA power rankings
- Blazers take the lead in race for final playoff spot
Playoff tickets will go on sale Thursday at 3 p.m., available at trailblazers.com, Ticketmaster or the Rose Quarter Box Office. Sign up for a presale opportunity here.
The playoffs begin Saturday, April 15. The Blazers will face the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. Game dates and times for the Blazers will be announced after the regular season ends on Wednesday.
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