NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 23rd (All times Eastern)
(5) Portland Trail Blazers (1-0) at (4) Houston Rockets (0-1), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets will try to even their Western Conference quarterfinal series with the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night when the teams play Game 2 at the Toyota Center.
Portland snatched Game 1, 122-120, in overtime on Sunday night in Houston thanks to amazing heroics from its two All-Stars.
Damian Lillard finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists and LaMarcus Aldridge turned in a monster performance with 46 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out in the extra session. Aldridge's 46 points set a Blazers' franchise record for points in a postseason game.
Down nine with less than five minutes to go in regulation, the Blazers employed the "hack-a-Howard" strategy.
Dwight Howard, a 54.7-percent foul shooter, made his first two attempts, but missed the next four as the Blazers rallied with the next 11 points to tie the game on Aldridge's two from the line with 2:46 left.
James Harden got a tough jumper to fall just inside the final minute of regulation for a 102-99 lead and Aldridge cut it to one with a pair of free throws 13 seconds later.
Jeremy Lin missed a runner on the other end, but Howard grabbed the rebound and was fouled. This time, Howard came through for his team and knocked down both free throws for a 104-101 edge.
Lillard, however, buried a game-tying trey. On the inbounds pass, Lillard ran his defender Patrick Beverley into a brutal screen which sent him to the deck. Lillard then got Terrance Jones to bite on a pump fake before knocking down the triple.
After Harden made it 106-104 with seven seconds left, Wesley Matthews attempted a three from the time out, but it drew iron. Lillard was there for the rebound, but his tip-in didn't fall. Aldridge, though, cleaned up that miss and tied the game again with 2.9 seconds left.
Harden couldn't get a tough look from the corner to go as the horn sounded, sending the game into overtime.
The Rockets scored the first six points of the bonus period thanks to three- point plays from Howard and Lin. Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, though, hit back- to-back treys and Matthews knocked down two free throws to give the Blazers their first lead since late in the first half.
The teams traded blows until Lin blew by his defender and got a layup to fall for a 118-116 lead with 53 seconds left. Lillard, however, used a three-point play on the ensuing trip to put Portland in front.
Garcia and Howard split from the stripe before Lillard made the go-ahead free throws.
"That was a tremendous game. Obviously when we fouled Dwight he missed some of the free throws, that was a turning point," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "They came out and scored the first six in OT, but we responded. We had to win one here, we did it, but we're not satisfied. Tonight is behind us, we have to keep going."
Howard and Harden both finished with 27 points while Howard pulled down 15 rebounds. Chandler Parsons added 24 and Lin chipped in 14 off the bench. Jones registered a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards.
Beverley injured his knee, but it wasn't as bad as originally diagnosed. He's expected to play Wednesday night.
"Woke up at home, tried to put some weight on it, felt good. Squatted and felt good, one-legged jump felt good," said Beverley. "I did this all at home. I just have an ability to heal quicker than others I guess."
Game 3 will be Friday night in Portland.
04/23 10:20:42 ET