Damian Lillard clinched tonight's game against the Houston Rockets with back to back plays mid-way through the fourth quarter. An alley-oop to Gerald Henderson, followed by a three pointer off an offensive rebound on the next play stretched the Blazers' lead to 13 with about six minutes to go (sequence starts at 1:20 in the above video). Houston had clawed their way back from a 21 point third quarter deficit and seemed poised to challenge, but these two plays from Lillard effectively ended the comeback bid and iced the game.
Lillard was the difference maker all night; he finished with 31 points and nine assists. In addition to his usual drives to the basket and deep three-pointers, Lillard added multiple pinpoint passes, including a remarkable two-hand chest pass from mid-court to Moe Harkless standing under the basket.
Lillard's highlight-reel passes have become the norm over the last two weeks. In the month of February, he has handed out 47 assists in five games, exceeding his season average of 7.3 assists per game. The increased emphasis on distribution has worked well for the Blazers - the team has gone 4-1 in those games.
Tonight's victory gives the Blazers a .500 record for the first time since early November when they were 4-4, and also boosts them into seventh place in the western conference. The Blazers will have over a week to rest before defending their playoff seed in their next game against the Golden State Warriors on February 19.