The Portland Trail Blazers are where very few analysts expected them to be, up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2000 as they beat the Houston Rockets on the road, 112-105. The Blazers now come home to Portland to play 2 games.
The game started with the Portland Trail Blazers playing Dwight Howard. With an obvious focus on dumping it inside, the Rockets fed Howard who dunked, dunked, and dunked again to go 6-6 and score his team’s first 13 points before exhausting himself and taking a breather on the bench. Meanwhile, the Blazers answered with LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 11 first quarter points himself. Unfortunately, the Blazers blew easy shots at the rim, Mo Williams single-handedly created a 6-point swing at minimum (source: eye test), and the Blazers allowed a 16-6 Rockets run, facing a 23-30 deficit going into the second quarter.
The Rockets continued to feed Howard, and the Blazers couldn’t stop him. He finished the half with 25 points. Houston built an 8 point lead, and the Blazers looked a little out of sorts. Fortunately, Portland continued to feed Aldridge, and the Rockets couldn’t stop HIM, finishing the half with 23 points. It was an epic battle, and it was only a shame that it wasn’t a strict head-to-head matchup, despite Aldridge pulling some duty guarding Howard. Meanwhile, Harden hit some shots, and Robin Lopez looked really, really bad. Everything in this game was cancelling itself out, and the half ended knotted at 53 apiece.
The Blazers kicked the door out of the third quarter like a cowboy entering a saloon, screaming to a nearly double-digit lead. Unfortunately, some guys in striped shirts stopped the game a few times and let the Rockets shoot free throws. Not sure what that was all about. Both Lopez and Howard got their 4th fouls, and Aldridge continued his domination, ending the quarter with 39 points and giving the Blazers an 83-77 lead heading into the fourth.
The Blazers held steady, even through Freeland picking up 2 fouls in 18 seconds trying to guard Howard. The fouls kept coming, but the Blazers never wavered, never complained. The game looked nearly out of hand with 1:40 left and the Blazers, up 8 and the ball, threw it away, allowing 4 points in quick succession. The game was within 4. With the shot clock running out, Aldridge missed… but Lillard grabbed the rebound and was fouled, hitting both to extend the lead to 104-98.
Howard was sent to the line and uncharacteristically hit both, but the Rockets fell asleep as Wesley Matthews cherry picked at the other end and got those 2 points right back.
Unfortunately, the Blazers allowed a quick three from Harden, and the collective chest of Blazers fans tightened. Lillard was immediately fouled by Jeremy Lin and hit both. The lead was 108-103 with 28 seconds and the Rockets had the ball.
The Blazers played very solid defense, and Lillard goaded Harden into an offensive foul. Mo Williams was fouled, he canned both, and that was all she wrote.
An analysis will be up tomorrow morning, but for now sit back and CELEBRATE.