After playing a rough game, the Blazers did what they needed to keep it close. Unfortunately, LaMarcus Aldridge was hesitant and froze up at times with Omer Asik starting at power forward and guarding Aldridge, taking away the most important facet of the Blazers’ offense. The game went to overtime, but with no logic to the offense, Portland couldn’t hold the 4-point lead they built in the extra period, and the Rockets prevailed 121-116.
The first quarter was… not good. Besides the whole starting the game allowing a 9-0 run thing, Portland was missing open shots. The Blazers looked tentative, hesitant, and… not good. Mo Williams missing an open layin, and setting a moving screen, and turning it over, and leaving Jeremy Lin wide, wide open…. Not good. The worst is that the moving screen negated a Wesley Matthews three. James Harden had his way, and the Blazers stared at a 24-35 deficit after one.
The Rockets were up 12 very early in the 2nd. Then, in a spurt that lasted just a few minutes, the Blazers went on a 19-2 run, leaving the Rockets reeling and grasping for some explanation for why their double-digit lead was now a two-possession deficit.
While Aldridge was still ice cold, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum were not, and Aldridge’s 4 points were hidden beneath Lillard’s 16 and Batum’s 12 points at the half. With three other Blazers scoring at least 5, the balanced attacked gave Portland a 55-54 lead going into the half. Of note is that the Rockets made the same number of 2’s and 3’s as the Blazers, but needed 9 and 3 more shots respectively to do it.
The third quarter saw Aldridge finally wake up, as free throws broke the ice and a number of long jumpers and a pick and pop melted it away. His 10 points were crucial as the Blazers’ confidence waned once again in the face of Houston’s transition offense. Going into the 4th, it was 78-81.
And the series came down to the final 12 minutes.
The Blazers got down early, and with 8 minutes left it was an 11 point game. Then, shot by shot, little by little, the lead crept down. 10. 8. 6. 3. When Batum hit a crazy 3 in transition to tie it at 110 with very little time left, the comeback was complete, not a second too soon. But when the Blazers got a stop, they had the ball with 2 timeouts and 20-some seconds left. They didn’t call one. Lillard jacked up an ugly shot, Harden missed from halfcourt, and it was overtime time.
The Blazers darted out to a 4-point lead, but looked hesitant and afraid on offense. Aldridge got it into his head that he couldn’t hit his shots. James Harden took 35… THIRTY FIVE… shots, and never thought he would miss. That’s the mentality Aldridge needed tonight, at least in overtime, and he just didn’t have it. The Blazers wilted down the stretch, and put themselves in a position to lose. And they did. With the game tied, on a broken play that should have been Blazers ball, Williams had it taken away by Lin, who hit rookie Troy Daniels for three. Game. Rockets.
The Blazers need to pump Aldridge back up before Sunday’s game. They’re not the same team without him.