Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts seemed to have a definitive plan for containing Houston Rockets guard James Harden. It began with attacking Harden as much as he could defensively, and it was enough to take No. 13 out of his rhythm.
Harden hit just 8-of-28 from the field and the Trail Blazers received impressive performances from its tandem of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard to win 122-120 in OT in Game One.
The Blazers got off to an early lead and were dominating the Rockets on the boards in the first quarter. Kevin McHale inserted Omer Asik into the lineup to go with a twin tower lineup briefly, but that didn’t bring much success.
LaMarcus Aldridge proved to be a huge headache to the Rockets’ frontcourt, as he scored 46 points on 17-of-31 shooting. Prior to the series, I’d raised questions of how McHale would combat Aldridge’s all-around dominance, and it appears it is going to be a problem for the entire series.
Terrence Jones just wasn’t able to figure out an effective way of keeping Aldridge from working the mid-range game and the pick and roll. Aldridge even drained two three-point field goals. Aldridge also grabbed 18 boards, though the Rockets held a plus-5 advantage on the boards.
|Portland Trail Blazers|
|LaMarcus Aldridge, PF||45||17-31||2-2||10-13||7||11||18||2||0||2||3||6||+17||46|
|Nicolas Batum, SF||45||6-10||2-4||0-0||1||8||9||3||2||1||1||4||+4||14|
|Robin Lopez, C||32||2-7||0-0||2-4||3||5||8||1||0||1||1||6||-15||6|
|Damian Lillard, PG||46||9-19||3-7||10-12||2||7||9||5||0||0||1||3||+7||31|
|Wesley Matthews, SG||42||6-16||1-7||5-6||1||0||1||1||3||0||4||5||+9||18|
|Thomas Robinson, PF||15||1-4||0-0||1-2||3||3||6||0||0||1||0||3||+11||3|
|Dorell Wright, SF||13||0-3||0-2||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||1||0||1||-10||0|
|Joel Freeland, C||1||0-0||0-0||1-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-3||1|
|Mo Williams, PG||27||1-6||1-4||0-0||0||1||1||2||2||0||2||4||-7||3|
|Will Barton, SG||0||0-1||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||-3||0|
|Meyers Leonard, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Earl Watson, PG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|C.J. McCollum, SG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
Fast break points: 18
Points in the paint: 52
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers): 12 (18)
|Terrence Jones, PF||36||6-10||0-0||0-0||3||10||13||2||1||2||0||4||-3||12|
|Chandler Parsons, SF||47||10-21||3-11||1-2||0||6||6||1||1||0||1||3||-2||24|
|Dwight Howard, C||34||9-21||0-0||9-17||6||9||15||1||1||4||2||6||-5||27|
|Patrick Beverley, PG||38||3-8||1-4||2-4||4||2||6||2||1||1||1||6||-2||9|
|James Harden, SG||45||8-28||3-14||8-10||2||3||5||6||1||0||4||3||-8||27|
|Omer Asik, C||12||1-2||0-0||0-0||3||3||6||0||0||0||2||5||-3||2|
|Jeremy Lin, PG||34||5-11||1-3||3-3||3||3||6||4||0||0||2||4||+5||14|
|Francisco Garcia, SG||18||1-4||0-3||3-4||1||1||2||0||0||0||0||2||+8||5|
|Josh Powell, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Donatas Motiejunas, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Jordan Hamilton, SF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Omri Casspi, SF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Troy Daniels, SG||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
Fast break points: 13
Points in the paint: 58
Total Team Turnovers (Points off turnovers): 13 (14)
The Rockets would go on a big 24-6 run in the second period and take a one point lead at the half despite trailing by seven after the first quarter. Chandler Parsons hit 7-of-9 from the floor in the first half to score 17 of his 24 points by the intermission.
Parsons hit just 3-of-12 to close the game, and he finished just 3-of-11 from three-point range in the game. The Rockets as a team were just 8-of-35 from behind the arc in the contest.
Despite the fact that Damian Lillard scored 31 points, Patrick Beverley played pestering and terrific defense. Lillard went most of the second half without even hitting a field goal. And then he took over with about five minutes to go…Lillard had connected on 5-of-5 from the line for his five second half points, but then nearly had a four-point play at the 3:50 mark, as the Rockets’ lead was cut to seven points. He tied the game at 104-104 with another three-pointer.
Following a pair of James Harden free throws, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard tipped in a missed three at the buzzer to force OT.
Overtime became a war of attrition. Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge both fouled out, leaving Portland with all shooters on the court. The lack of Blazer depth would ordinarily be seen as a reason to lose overtime contests, but the Blazers survived this one and stole home court advantage in this best of seven series.
Howard and Beverley also both fouled out in the extra period, and the questionable call on Howard sealed Houston’s fate. Blazer backup center Joel Freeland was holding Howard on a boxout, yet No. 12 was whistled for his sixth foul and Freeland knocked down 1-of-2 to put Portland ahead for good.
The Rockets had one final chance to win it on a Harden isolation play, but Nicolas Batum did not bite on the pump fake and Harden launched an tough contested jumper that drew back iron as the horn sounded.
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