The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who scored 23 and 19 respectively. Allen Crabbe's 15 points of the bench were also key, plus Al-Farouq Aminu's double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds. James Harden led a furious comeback effort for the Rockets, scoring 45 points and dishing 11 assists. Dwight Howard grabbed 19 rebounds. It was Corey Brewer with the shot of the night, though, forcing overtime.
Rockets' Corey Brewer forces overtime vs. Blazers w/ this wacky three pic.twitter.com/3u22TwLq0d— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) November 19, 2015
As often is the case, teams have a little extra incentive to play well in the first game after a coach getting fired, and Houston's first defensive possession started with a James Harden steal -- a worst nightmare for the Trail Blazers.
The nightmarish quarter continued for the Blazers, who turned the ball over eight times in the opening 12 minutes. But all that sloppiness by the Blazers managed to rub off on the Rockets, who turned it over four times themselves and shot well under 40% in the quarter. Even amidst all the turnovers and Damian Lillard not making a field goal, Portland only trailed 22-21 after one.
The second quarter saw continued shooting woes for both teams. The quarter started out nicely with back-to-back Allen Crabbe triples, but it remained a sloppy struggle. The biggest surprise of the quarter was the entrance of Tim Frazier, who had played just 13 minutes this season before Wednesday night. Both Frazier and Crabbe were the stars of the quarter, Frazier as a facilitator and defender and Crabbe as a scorer: Frazier notched three assists, while Crabbe exploded for 13 points.
With Lillard not registering a single field goal in the entire first half and C.J. McCollum shooting just 2-7, not to mention 11 first half turnovers, the Blazers held the Rockets to 25% shooting and led at halftime by double digits, 46-35.
While the second quarter started with both teams ice cold, the Blazers immediately turned red hot in the third. It started with a smooth drive by Noah Vonleh and Lillard three-pointer, his first field goal of the game. Both teams traded baskets but Portland held on to a double digit lead for much of the quarter. By the end of the quarter, Portland had 30 points in the third, brought their shooting percentage up to 46% and extended the lead to 15, 76-61.
The fourth quarter started the same way the rest of the game had for the Blazers: with a turnover. And even though the game stayed at a double digit lead for the first four minutes, the Rockets clamped down defensively and James Harden woke up. Harden orchestrated an 11-2 run midway through the quarter, cutting the lead to just two. The Blazers responded with a 7-0 run of their own, but the Rockets never went away.
By the end, the Blazers were in pure survival mode. Lillard and McCollum traded baskets with Harden, and Corey Brewer blew a late-game layup that would've cut the game to a single possession deficit. However, a missed McCollum free throw and a Harden three made it a one possession game, and after a Portland missed shot the Rockets had a chance to tie the game. Crabbe elected to foul Harden immediately off the inbounds pass instead of giving the Rockets a chance at a final possession. Harden made both free throws, cutting the lead to one. After a pair of Aminu free throws, Corey Brewer came up with the shot of the game, drilling a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining to tie the game. Lillard missed the final shot of the game, forcing the game to go to overtime. It was a 38-point quarter for Houston.
Overtime started the way the fourth quarter ended: with the James Harden show. Harden started the overtime period with five straight points. Portland tried to keep it close, but yet another late turnover by Aminu was the backbreaker. The Rockets, with all the momentum in the world, never looked back, defeating the Blazers 108-103.