LaMarcus Aldridge solidified his All-Star status amid M-V-P chants and a career high 25 rebounds to go with 31 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers solidified their status as an elite team with a 111-104 win over the 15-8 Houston Rockets. The Blazers, now 19-4 and still atop the Western Conference, have won 17 of their last 19 and two in a row.
This was a game of two halves. The first was a high-energy, high-volume, low-accuracy affair with a whole lot of ugly. It was looking a lot like a low-scoring slugfest, and Houston had a one-point lead at the half, with the Blazers shooting a meager 32%.
The game opened up in the third quarter, both teams scoring over 30 points and hitting the shots that wouldn’t fall before. The Blazers show some sweet ball movement, and a Matthews-to-Lopez-to-Matthews-to-Lopez dipsy-doodle for a Lopez and-one was the stuff of textbooks. The Blazers built a 10-point lead, then gave it all away before the end of the quarter, and it was tied at 76 going into the fourth.
The Blazers started the final quarter on a 10-0 run that was snapped by a very, very stupid foul by Dorell Wright at the end of the shot clock to give Patrick Beverly three free throws. Wright made up for it by getting all three back at the other end, and the Blazers got a touch sloppy to let Houston within 5 with 7 minutes left. After some back-and-forth, the Blazers made another push, and an overzealous Howard tried blocking Aldridge and ended up with an and-one goaltend, putting the Blazers back at a 10-point lead which proved much too much for the Rockets to overcome.
Lillard and Beverly got a little chippy at the end after Beverly tried knocking the ball away after a whistle, but both teams (sort of) congratulated each other on a good effort after the final buzzer.
The Blazers take on the 7-16 Philadelphia 76ers on the road Sunday Dec. 13 at 4:00 p.m. PST.
LaMarcus Aldridge was amazing to watch. After a slow first half (which, by the way, affected all players on both teams), he decided he was the best player on the court and played like it. From drawing fouls to hitting and-ones to splashing fades, Aldridge was all over the place, making his presence felt on both ends of the court. Along with his prolific scoring and rebounding, he also had 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 2 assists. The M-V-P chants were more than deserved last night.
Nicolas Batum had 15-6-6 and was again, as he so often has been, all things to all people when Portland needed him. The only real knock was his propensity to throw bad passes; some of those leading to his 4 turnovers and a handful of points for Houston.
Robin Lopez had another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds with 2 blocks. He also took a Harden elbow to the face, but got called for his fifth foul. He did an admirable job with Dwight Howard, as the Blazers were determined not to send double-team help; part of why Howard finished with 32 points off 14-22 shooting.
Wesley Matthews played very hard, as usual, and showed off his newly-developed abilities to drive, take off-balance shots, and be much more of a threat than he’s been as a spot-up shooter in years past. His impact exceeded his 18 points, though he shot poorly (2-8 from three and 6-16 overall).
Damian Lillard had a rough game… but the beautiful part about this Portland team? They don’t need him every night, especially if LMA goes unconscious as he did in the second half tonight. Lillard finished his atrocious 1-10 shooting night with 8 points and 6 assists.
Mo Williams played mostly within himself for his 13 points, shooting 50%. He had a few questionable shots… but this is Mo Williams we’re talking about here. It’s to be expected, though his scoring was welcome.
- Aldridge’s 30-point, 25-rebound game was a first in Trail Blazers franchise history.
- He’s also the first player with a 30-25 game since TNT’s Chris Webber did it in 2001.
- He’s also the only Blazer to have four 30-20 games in his career.
- TNT’s broadcasters don’t seem to like Portland. Among other things, they said the Blazers need a 10-game east coast road trip to prove themselves (as if such a thing exists… and it would also be a lot of wins, let’s be honest), the in-game announcers said that the “Blazers are such a good jump shooting team, but how far can they go,” and Charles Barkley added that the Blazers can’t be elite because they’re a jump shooting team. Of the last comment, Aldridge said after the game, “Charles talks trash about everybody, and our team is winning right now.” Well said.
- There were a lot, and I mean a lot, of missed dunks this game. Maybe more than I’ve ever seen in one contest, at least 5 or 6.
- The Blazers and the Pacers are the only two teams in the league with 19 wins.
- Aldridge is now averaging 10 rebounds a game.
- Next Up: the Philadelphia 76ers. You can still grab Trail Blazers vs. 76ers tickets if you’re looking to attend.