It was a day of surprises in the NBA playoffs following the Wizards defeat of the Bulls with the Portland Trail Blazers beating the Houston Rockets 122-120 in overtime at the Toyota Center in Houston.
On the broad, capable shoulders of Lamarcus Aldridge (46 points, 8 rebounds) and dynamic point guard Damian Lillard (31 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists), the Trail Blazers took home court advantage from the 4th seeded Houston Rockets.
Aldridge was a handful in the low-block all game, proving too much for Houston forward Terrence Jones. Backing Jones to the basket with ease to score, the Rockets still were able to hold the Trail Blazers at an arms length through Dwight Howard (27 points, 15 rebounds), James Harden (27 points, 6 assists) and Chandler Parsons (24 points).
Houston had appeared to secure the chocolates when they led 98-87 with just over four minutes remaining in regulation time. Portland’s defense gained some integral stops and was also helped by some hack-a-Dwight tactics. A few heroics from stars Aldridge and Lillard, and Portland had managed to have forced overtime.
The fouling out of Portland’s Aldridge and Brook Lopez in addition to Houston’s Howard and Patrick Beverley soured the overtime period. Beverley also sprained his knee and will undergo an MRI that could have implications for the rest of the series.
Houston still had the final possession to win or tie the game, however isolation-happy Harden was forced into a contested mid-range jump shot, that was unsuccessful as time expired.
The Trail Blazers, who have not made it past the first round in their previous six playoff series’, were tipped by many to prove little resistance for the Rockets.
Game two will be played in Houston on Wednesday local time (Thursday for Australians) and will be vital for the higher seeded Rockets to not concede again on their home floor.