The Blazers rallied from thirteen points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday night. With Brandon Roy not expected back any time soon, Portland has started to climb on the back of LaMarcus Aldridge, and he carried them home in this one.
Aldridge had 27 points and 13 rebounds, including 10 points in the fourth quarter, as the Blazers finished the game on a 27-11 run in the final ten minutes. Aldridge did what he pleased against what looks like a permanently Yao-less Rocket team, abusing youngster Jordan Hill all night with an array of decisive low post moves.
The Blazers took a 55-47 lead into half time, but the Rockets came out of the break with lockdown defense, holding Portland scoreless for almost five minutes on an 11-0 run to give them a quick third quarter lead. Kevin Martin was unconscious from the perimeter, which he sometimes can be, draining three’s from all over the place and carrying the Rockets with 19 of his game high 45 points in the third quarter. Houston took a six point lead into the fourth, and Martin’s sixth and final three of the game was a part of the 13-2 run to give Houston a nine point lead.
In what would prove to be the critical juncture of the game, a Chase Budinger 3-pointer stretched the Rocket lead to 13. But that lead would be short-lived. With 9:58 remaining, a weary Kevin Martin went to the bench for a breather and the Rockets seemed to collectively take one as well. Back to back threes by Rudy Fernandez and Nic Batum sliced the lead to five in an instant. A Brad Miller technical and two swift buckets from Aldridge later, and the Blazers had erased that 13 point deficit in three minutes with Martin off the floor.
With the Rockets up 97-96 with a little less than three minutes to go, Jordan Hill missed 2 critical free throws. Things got very tight, as both teams traded misses until Rudy Fernandez made a leaning left corner jumper to give the Blazers the lead for good. After a Martin miss, the Blazers fed the ball to their go-to guy and he delivered. The Rockets chose not to double team Aldridge and he gave Hill his final lesson of the night, schooling him with a spin and a lefty scoop to give Portland an 100-97 lead.
Luis Scola missed a short turn around in the lane, and Aldridge tacked on 2 free throws. After a Kyle Lowry three, Andre Miller made 1 of 2 from the line to give the Rockets a final chance. But Courtney Lee’s final look came up short, to give the Blazers the victory. The win gave Portland their second victory in less than a week over Houston which earned them the tie-breaker for any eventual playoff scenario as well.
The Blazers got a career high 14 points from the Australian-born Patty Mills, which included four 3-pointers, one of which gave them a 92-91 lead mid-way through the fourth quarter. Rudy Fernandez missed 8 of his 11 shots but what you like is his fearlessness, draining the one that counted to give them the lead with less than a minute left. It all comes back to Aldridge though, who continues to assert himself in the absence of Brandon Roy. He’s topped 25 points in his last four games, three of them Blazer victories. Every time they needed a bucket in this one they went to Aldridge, and it looks as though that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
The Blazers will hop a plane to Minnesota to take on an improving Wolves team on Friday night, a team with the bigs to match them on the glass. They will then head home to try to extend their 9 game winning streak at the Rose Garden against the red hot Miami Heat.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.