If you managed to stay awake tonight thanks, as always to TNT, you were lucky to witness another MVP-style performance from LaMarcus Aldridge and another second-half comeback from the Blazers on national television.
In a rematch, the visiting Houston Rockets (15-8) showed up again at the Moda Center looking for another lopsided win over the West’s best Blazers (19-4). Last month, Dwight Howard took complete control of Portland inside the paint and the perimeter defense halted any long-range attack, leaving the Blazers frustrated. Since the defeat, the only other team to beat the Blazers at home this season was the Dallas Mavericks, so you better believe Portland was going for revenge.
Since it’s late, we’ll keep the recap sweet and to the point so we can all go to bed.
After tipoff around a quarter to eight, it was the tale of either poor shooting by both teams or pretty good defense as the score read 9-9 with just six minutes left in the first quarter. The shooting percentage was barely 35%, LaMarcus Aldridge was struggling to find his shot – I’m talking 1-8 from the floor – the bright spot was his eight rebounds. James Harden was doing anything and everything to run into bodies and get to the foul line (some questionable flopping too). Dwight Howard was going to work in the paint and Portland somehow was up 21-20 in the first. The second was still the same story: good looks from all ends of the floor but shots aren’t falling down. The Rockets erupt for a 12-3 run while the Blazers shooting percentage dips to 28% and the feeling was this was the end. Not so much the case. Both Houston and Portland traded erratic passes, turnovers, bad shot selections and Portland manages to only be down, surprisingly, 44-43 at the break.
I’d like to think that the entire locker room spent halftime gathering themselves while Drake’s “Worst Behavior” blasted through the speakers, but Aldridge came out guns blazing and ignited an 11-3 run to start the third. He was simply unstoppable: a man above boys, once again putting the Blazers on his back while putting up 10 unanswered to take a 10-point lead. The only real threat came when a Howard dunk and a Chandler Parsons three cut the lead to two very quickly midway through the fourth. Aldridge had been sitting out and plays the final six minutes, finds Batum in the corner for three with 2:47 minutes left and chalks up another 11-1 run while “MVP” chants drown out the Moda Center as he’s sent to the foul line numerous times. No matter how many easy shots Howard got in the paint, the LaMonster outshined him. The Blazers get their revenge and another win on national television and beat the Rockets 111-104 ahead of a Eastern Conference road-trip starting this weekend.
Who Was Hot
- LaMarcus Aldridge: My goodness…he was putting on quite the show after a dismal first-half, scoring just two points by half. His 31 points, 25 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in a game are a first since Chris Webber in 2001 and the first kind of stat in Portland’s history. Even Charles Barkley agrees he should be involved in MVP talks. Straight up respect.
- Mr. Iron Man Wesley Matthews had 18 points, Nicolas Batum had 15, and six rebounds, six assists and Robin Lopez posted 16 points and 10 rebounds.
- Dwight Howard can go and score 32 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks but the fact that Portland kept Houston away from the three-point attack was one of the keys to this victory. He had his laughable moments where he would miss a hook shot and we would laugh, but then he’d put the post moves on Lopez/Freeland and make it look so easy. Very Olajuwon-like.
- James Harden contributed 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds to his ususal self.
- Rebounds: Portland 52 – Houston 48
- Assists: Portland 22 – Houston 16
- Free throws: Portland 25-30 – Houston 19-24
- Mo Williams rocked the white headband and two arm sleeves per request of Twitter followers. Remember the hoopla when Gerald Wallace couldn’t wear his for awhile? He led the bench with 13 points.
Who was Cold
- This wasn’t Damian Lillard’s most attractive game ever, but it doesn’t matter because everyone will be talking about Aldridge, so we can forgive and forget Lillard’s eight points and six assists. Much of the credit will go to Patrick Beverley’s dogging defense and frustrating Lillard all night.
- The Blazers bench caused more trouble then they should have which meant more minutes for the starters. Sloppy turnovers, bad shots and not being able to match Howard’s size once he got his rest saw very limited time in the second half for Thomas Robinson and Joel Freeland.
The Next Hall and Oates
In honor of the huge night of both Aldridge and Lopez, this is the new McLoughlin Auto Mall commercial that features the two. It’s amazing and you’re welcome.
GIF of the Night
Another win (was it ever in doubt?) at home, the Blazers keeping themselves on top the wild West and LaMarcus Aldridge showed he’s the best power forward in front of America. What could be better? The Blazers head off this weekend for another long road-trip to the East, and with the schedule visiting the likes of Philly and Cleveland, can Portland sweep the East again? They face Michael Carter-Williams and the 76ers on Saturday.