LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 14 rebounds, Nicolas Batum had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers got a big win over the Houston Rockets, 105-100 Wednesday night at Moda Center.
Both teams stayed even at the start of the contest. Aldridge had 11 in the quarter to lead for the Blazers, which was countered by 10 by James Harden. Houston used turnovers to build a six point lead halfway through the quarter, but great efforts by Arron Afflalo and Steve Blake helped Portland close the lead to one. On one possession, after Afflalo lost control of the ball and turned it over, he sprinted down the court and swiped it away from Josh Smith, and saved the ball with a no-look hook pass to Blake to allow Portland to return the momentum. Off the back of a near buzzer-beater by Corey Brewer, Houston led by three after one.
Houston extended their lead to as many as seven in the second quarter as Portland started the quarter cold from the field. Damian Lillard had seven to lead the team, keeping the Blazers close, and Robin Lopez added six as the home team got back into the game. A three by Batum gave Portland a five point lead, only to have Houston close to within one at halftime.
The second half could not have started any worse for the Blazers. Aldridge picked up three fouls in the first 90 seconds of the quarter, and had to go to the bench. Without their leading scorer, the Blazers missed their first nine shots, and did not score until the 7:35 mark of the quarter. Only their defense kept the game close as Houston hit just five of their first nineteen shots. When the shots needed to fall, it was Batum and Meyers Leonard who saved the day. Both hit a pair of threes and scored eight in the period as Portland took a a six point lead into the final quarter.
The Blazers offense clicked in the fourth quarter, with Kaman and Aldridge leading the way. The Blazers led by as many as 11, but a pair of threes from Brewer cut the lead to six with two minutes to play. A steal by Brewer cut the lead to four. Afflalo hit a pair of free throws, but Brewer, who scored 17 straight points for the Rockets, hit a three to back the lead three. On the ensuing possession, Brewer hooked Lillard's arms to steal the ball, but the foul was not called. Brewer would dunk to make the game 101-100 with 15.2 seconds remaining. Afflalo hit two more free throws, and Brewer missed a three to seal the game.
Kaman and Leonard tied for the lead in bench scoring with eight. Lopez scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. With a made three in the fourth quarter, Afflalo avoided tying his worst shooting night as a pro. He shot 1-of-11 January 14th, 2013 against the Washington Wizards while he was playing for the Orlando Magic. He finished tonight 2-of-13.
The Trail Blazers have won the season series (2-1) and a playoff tiebreaker with Houston for the first time since 2010-11 (2-1). #PORvsHOU— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 12, 2015
The Trail Blazers have not lost when leading at halftime at the Moda Center this season (17-0). #PORvsHOU— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 12, 2015
With the win tonight, Portland is 5-0 against above .500 teams in the West since Feb. 25 (HOU, DAL, LAC, OKC, SA). #PORvsHOU— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 12, 2015
Trail Blazers' 60 rebounds match the most against the Rockets this season. They outrebounded Rockets by 20 boards, had 19 2nd-chance pts.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) March 12, 2015
Asked about his 3Q performance, Meyers Leonard echoed his coach. "Gotta stay ready." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) March 12, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge joked after seeing Wesley Matthews' Instagram post that Wes was 'still drugged up'— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 12, 2015
The magic number for the Blazers to clinch the Pacific Division (and at least the fourth seed) is now 11 POR wins and OKC losses.— Timmay (@BedgeTimmay) March 12, 2015
RoLo on the importance of keeping Houston off the offensive boards: "They're very adept and adroit at getting easy points."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) March 12, 2015
VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge hits a tough floater while being fouled.