Skip to content

LaMarcus Aldridge’s Trail Blazers claw back for Game 1 win over Houston Rockets

Apr 21, 2014, 2:29 AM EDT

LaMarcus Aldridge LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge shot just 33 percent with Omer Asik guarding him during the regular season, giving the Rockets a potential answer to a player who scorched them for 26.8 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. In Game 1 of the Trail Blazers’ first-round series against Houston on Sunday, Aldridge immediately went to work trying prove the backup center couldn’t stop him when they matched up in the first quarter.

Aldridge gained no ground on a post-up and settled for a turnaround jumper. Point Asik.

Aldridge made it anyway. Point Aldridge.

On Portland’s next possession, Aldridge rolled to the basket and finish at the rim despite absorbing a hard bump from Asik. Point Aldridge – and, more importantly, message sent.

The favored Rockets couldn’t knock out the Trail Blazers in a 122-120 Portland win. Three hours and 21 minutes after tipoff – and 35 hours and 24 minutes after an exciting opening weekend of the NBA playoffs began – Portland finally ended a thrilling overtime game by forcing a missed James Harden jumper.

The Rockets led by 13 points in the fourth quarter, 11 points with four minutes left in regulation and six points with four minutes left in overtime. But the Trail Blazers showed their resiliency in Houston.

To come back late in regulation, Portland repeatedly intentionally fouled Dwight Howard. After he missed four straight free throws, Houston pulled him.

Often overlooked in hack-a-whomever strategies is how it affects the fouling team’s offense. Even when the opponent misses his free throws, that usually gives them a chance to set their defense. Though I don’t know exact numbers, I’m fairly confident scoring gets much harder after sending someone to the free-throw line.

But by forcing Howard out of the game, the Trail Blazers bettered their offense. They shot 10-for-10 in the paint with him on the bench.

Damian Lillard – who scored 31 points, becoming the first Trail Blazer to score 30 in his playoff debut – especially got where he wanted during the closing stretch.

Soon enough, momentum completely shifted. Lillard made a game-tying 3-pointer with 29 second left. After Harden hit two free throws, Aldridge’s tip-in with two seconds left sent the game to overtime.

That just gave us a little longer to appreciate Aldridge’s incredible performance. Aldridge – who shot 3-for-15 from beyond the arc during the regular season – even made a 3-pointer in the extra period.

He finished with 46 points – a Portland franchise playoff record and most by anyone in a postseason game in three years – and 18 rebounds. The last two players to hit those marks in a playoff game, Howard and Hakeem Olajuwon, watched Aldridge join their ranks in person.

Howard, whose signing in Houston coincided with the Rockets hiring Olajuwon to tutor the team’s centers, was no slouch himself. He had 27 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks for his new team.

On the other hand, his All-Star teammate, struggled. Harden shot just 8-for-28 and didn’t going at all until the second half, when Houston shot its first free throw. Although Harden scored 27 points, they came inefficiently, and his defense was problematic throughout the game.

At least he was left standing to take the final shot, though.

Robin Lopez, Aldridge, Patrick Beverley and Howard all fouled out in overtime. In a physically and mentally exhausting game, it seemed players lost their wits a bit. Aldridge’s final foul was particular maddening. He set an unnecessary (especially with five fouls) screen in the backcourt to free Lillard off the ball and got a little too physical.

The Trail Blazers and Rockets have two days off before Game 2, and after this one, it seems they’ll need every minute to recuperate – and then maybe all 48 minutes (plus maybe more) to determine another winner.

Latest Posts
  1. Draymond Green launches “It’s cool Glen” line of T-shirts in latest banter between him, Doc Rivers

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    b2644bf0-d4c9-11e4-bb85-27743e449672_csg

    The battle between Green and Doc Rivers continues in the funniest of ways.

  2. Cavaliers coach David Blatt: ‘LeBron James is our MVP’

    Mar 27, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game 1 Getty Images

    Blatt knows James is unlikely to get the league-wide award this season.

  3. No Durant, what does that mean for Thunder in these playoffs? Trouble.

    Mar 27, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets

    The Thunder defense has become a mess, which is bad for the playoffs.

  4. Report: UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn to enter NBA draft; Vaughn denies it

    Mar 27, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT

    San Jose State v UNLV Getty Images

    He is likely a middle second round pick if he comes out.

  5. Blake Griffin nails impression of Austin Rivers (VIDEO)

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    It’s pretty spot on. And cold-blooded.

  6. Kevin Durant to have third foot surgery; is done for season, playoffs

    Mar 27, 2015, 3:09 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    He should be back next season, the final one of this contract with Oklahoma City.

  7. High praise: Bob Cousy says Hassan Whiteside reminds him of Bill Russell

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

    Cousey said not Shaq, not Ewing, nobody reminded him of Russell like Whiteside.

  8. Report: Salary cap could rise to $105 million in 2017-18

    Mar 27, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT

    AP Money Found AP

    As everyone braces for 2016 spike, another big bump could follow

  9. Goran Dragic leading feisty Heat’s playoff push

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:55 AM EDT

    Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven Goran Dragic, Josh Tiven

    LeBron James and a lot of stature are gone, but with the more-modest goal of just making the playoffs, Miami’s new point guard embracing the challenge

  10. Anthony Davis made 100 free throws in arena after Rockets loss

    Mar 27, 2015, 10:19 AM EDT

    Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Pelicans star missed eight free throws in setback to Houston

  11. DeMarcus Cousins has response for fan who tells him to stop complaining about calls

    Mar 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Houston at Sacramento Getty Images

    Cousins has gotten better, but he still has yet to hear a foul call he liked.

  12. Amar’e Stoudemire on retiring: “There’s a lot of high-level basketball left in me”

    Mar 27, 2015, 1:08 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Stoudemire can give a team 15 minutes a night off the bench of quality play.

  13. NBA admits incorrect no-call by referees on final play of Lakers’ overtime win over Timberwolves

    Mar 26, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves

    A day later the league says Andrew Wiggins was fouled, but the officials let it go at the time.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6759)
  2. K. Lowry (6207)
  3. R. Rubio (6146)
  4. L. Aldridge (5982)
  5. G. Monroe (5798)
  1. P. George (5734)
  2. B. Knight (5584)
  3. D. Rose (5546)
  4. N. Batum (5440)
  5. D. Howard (5407)