The Blazers were led by a couple monster performances. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 46 points with 18 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. And Damian Lillard scored 31 with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Wesley Matthews added 18 points, and Nicolas Batum had 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
The Blazers played hard defense early, and exploited mismatches at the offensive end to take a 7 point lead. As Houston closed the gap, the first members of the Blazer bench entered the game. Houston focused on driving the ball or shooting the three, but struggled when trying to pound the ball inside. Thomas Robinson brought energy, but the out-of-control type, bringing both good and bad. But when Lillard swished a three-pointer, the Blazer lead reached 8. They retained a 7 point lead at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter opened with Batum bouncing a ball off his foot, and a Rockets run. A weird offensive rebound led to a dunk and a tie game, and a timeout from Blazers' Head Coach Terry Stotts. It didn't help, as Chandler Parsons sparked a run while the Blazers couldn't get started at the offensive end. They took another timeout, after being outscored 20-6 in the second quarter and suddenly down 7. Eventually, Houston completed a 13-0 run to take an 11 point lead. The starters took care of business, tying the game while the Houston faithful chanted "Refs you suck!" due to the free throw disparity in Portland's favor. A last-second Harden three-pointer gave the Rockets a 1 point lead at halftime.
In the third, Portland came out and simply didn't play their best ball. They made poor mistakes, gave up offensive rebounds, the works. They quickly fell behind by 10 and needed a timeout, then promptly missed at one end, and gave Harden an open three at the other. Lillard responded by dribbling the ball off his foot. As Portland continued to miss three's, Houston comfortably kept the lead near double-digits. But as the quarter wound down, Matthews scored 5 points in 10 seconds to cut the lead to 4. But the Blazers forgot how to rebound again, and Houston held a 6 point lead going into the deciding quarter.
Unfortunately the Blazers immediately turned the ball over to start the fourth, and gave up a layup at the other end. That was followed up with Lopez missing two free throws, and another Howard layup. Lillard bricked a three, Mo turned it over, and Beverley hit a wide-open three, and the Rockets led by 13. To put it mildly, it was not a good start to the quarter. After Portland missed three's all night, Aldridge nailed one to settle things down. He followed with a jumper to pull within single digits. A Mo three-pointer cut the deficit to 7. Unfortunately he then committed a flagrant foul, helping Houston pull ahead by double digits. The Lillard came up limping after a Howard screen. He stayed in the game after a timeout.
From there... things fell apart. The referees struggled to maintain control, missing a likely Howard goaltend, then called multiple fouls on Lopez, including a technical foul due to Howard instigation. The Blazers finally went to hack-a-Dwight. By that point, Portland was still down 11 with 4 minutes left. And Lillard missed a free throw in response. But after two missed free throws from Howard, Lillard was fouled on a three, and nailed it. But missed another free throw. Overall, the fouling was effective, as the Blazers cut the lead to 5 with 3:30 left. And Lillard scored a layup to cut it to three, followed by a Blazer steal, and an Aldridge layup plus the foul! The game was tied.
Houston went to Harden, who hit a jumper for the lead at the 2:15 mark. Aldridge missed a free throw, and then turned the ball over, and Harden scored for a 3 point Houston lead with less than a minute left. Aldridge was fouled and hit both to make it a one point game with 40 seconds left. Houston missed, but Howard got the rebound and was fouled. He hit both to give the Rockets a 3 point lead with 32 seconds left. Lillard for three... SWISH, tie game with 29 seconds left! GIF here.
At the other end, Harden leaned in and drew a cheap foul for free throws and a 2 point lead with 8 seconds left. With a chance to tie or win, the Blazers went to Matthews, who missed a three, then they missed a tip-in... and Aldridge tipped it in! The game was tied with 3 seconds left. But they left Houston with a chance to win. Harden missed, and we head to overtime.
Houston quickly got two consecutive three-point plays in less than a minute of overtime, but Aldridge nailed a three-pointer. and Batum nailed another to tie the game! After a Houston miss, Lillard fed to Matthews to force a foul. The Blazers took a 2 point lead. Houston tied it on a jumper with 2:30 left. Lillard missed a layup, but Lopez dunked a tip-in for the lead. Howard was sort of fouled, and got free throws. The game was tied with a minute left, but a Beverley flop was called as the sixth foul on Aldridge, and Houston had a chance for the lead.
With both Lopez and Aldridge gone, the Rockets took the lead on a finger roll with 53 seconds left. Lillard went to the hoop with 45 seconds left, was fouled by Beverley and hit the shot. Beverley fouled out on the play. Lillard hit the free throw for the lead. Francisco Garcia rebounded a Houston miss, and seemed to be tied up, but was given a foul. He missed the second, but Howard pushed through to get the rebound, was fouled, and hit one. Houston had a one point lead with 24 seconds left. Portland got the ball to Lillard, who was fouled on the drive. With 17 seconds left, he hit both for the lead.
Harden missed a three, and the refs called an iffy foul on Dwight Howard, fouling him out of the game. Joel Freeland went to the line, and hit one for a 2 point Blazer lead with 10 seconds left. Houston got it to Harden, for a contested jumper... NO! HE MISSES! AND THE BLAZERS UPSET THE HOUSTON ROCKETS IN OVERTIME!
Aldridge set a postseason franchise record with 46 points.
Aldridge also joined select company league-wide. Here's a list of players who have gone 45/15 in a postseason game since 1986.
Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle reports that Rockets guard Patrick Beverley sprained his right knee late in Game 1 and that he will undergo an MRI on Monday. Beverley previously suffered meniscus damage in his right knee back in March.
Beverley, who tore the meniscus in his right knee on March 27, started limping with 1:04 left in overtime after a contact with LaMarcus Aldridge. Beverley hobbled off the court after fouling out of the game in overtime with 44.5 seconds left.
Rockets center Dwight Howard said the injury to Beverley "hurts" the Rockets moving forward.
"All of us are saddened by the fact that Pat hurt his knee again," Howard said. "I didn't want to see anything happen to him ... It hurts all of us. We just have to step up here as a team and win it for him."
The Blazers and Rockets get two full days off to recover from this game, and pick up Wednesday night in Houston for Game 2.
In the meantime, stay tuned for tons of coverage of tonight's game, including Dave's analysis.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night!
Thanks to all who chatted live in tonight's Blazer's Edge Gameday Threads! Here are the favorite comments based on number of rec's from their fellow fans: