Blazers Ride The Aldridge Wave To Take 2-0 Series Lead Versus Rockets

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers did what few outside of their locker room thought they Wednesday night in Houston by defeating the Rockets 112-105 to take a 2-0 lead in the four/five matchup of the Western Conference first-round. It is only the second time in franchise history that the Trail Blazers have won their first two road games in a playoff series.

“Let me just say, getting a second win here was quite an accomplishment,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I liked out demeanor. We withstood some of their blows and kept fighting. I told the team it’s something to be proud of, but we have a tough game on Friday, so it’s just on to the next one.”

LaMarcus Aldridge was once again absolutely dominant, scoring 43 points on 18 field goals, a franchise playoff record, to go with eight rebounds, three blocks and an assist in 36 minutes.

“LaMarcus Aldridge killed us once again,” said Rockets guard James Harden. “Two games, ninety plus points. It is tough for us to get out in transition and play how we play if we can’t get stops.”

Few people, even Aldridge himself, thought he could follow up his historic 46-point performance from Game 1, but the three-time All-Star nearly did just that, and without the aid of an overtime period.

“I just went into the game just trying to feel it out and ended up finding my rhythm,” said Aldridge in the understatement of the night. “I thought Coach did a really great job of moving me around. They were trying to double me a little, so I thought Coach moving me around the floor was great.”

Aldridge is now only player with two 40-point playoff games in franchise history, a feat made even more impressive when one considers he did so in consecutive games. He’s the first player with back-to-back 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James did it during the 2009 Playoffs. He’s also the first player since Michael Jordan to put up at least 80 points and 15 rebounds in his team’s first two playoff games.

“There’s no question that these two games here is as well as I’ve seen him play,” said Stotts of Aldridge. “He is very determined, he’s focused, and he’s leading the team, not only with his play but also the way he’s handling himself in the timeouts and in the locker room. This is really the best I’ve ever seen him play.”

Aldridge went 9 of 12 from the field for 23 points in the first half, which was absolutely necessary in order for the Trail Blazers to withstand a first-half barrage by Houston center Dwight Howard. Howard scored Houston’s first 13 points Wednesday night and looked all but unstoppable on the way to finishing the first half with 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting.

“(Howard) got off to such a good start,” said Stotts. “We wanted to play him straight up and I thought we did a better job as the game went on mixing up our coverages.”

But even with Howard living up to his self-appointed “Superman” moniker, his regular sidekicks, Harden and small forward Chandler Parsons, went 3 for 11 from the field in the first half.

“I think the one thing that I worry about is letting (Howard) go get all those points and then letting all of their shooters start making shots, too,” said Aldridge. “As long as we were trading twos, I was fine with it. I didn’t want to overreact to it.”

Nor did they need to. While many were falling all over themselves heaping praise on Howard for his first-half performance, the scoreboard read 53-53 going into halftime, which was an unqualified success for the road team.

And in the third quarter, Howard would take only two shots, missing both. He would finish the second half with just seven points.

“I thought Robin (Lopez) and LA played good defense and the rest of the team really paid attention to him,” said Stotts. “The fact he had twenty five in the first half and finished with thirty two … we wanted to give him a lot more attention in the second half.”

In the meantime, Howard’s teammates decided they were no longer content to be spectators in their own playoff game. Harden was particularly damaging to the Rockets in the third, going 1 for 7 from the field.

But while Howard was on the bench for half of the third while his teammates bricked shot after shot, Aldridge would continue to cook, scoring 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

“This team, in general, just believes in me so much, they ride the wave so well,” said Aldridge. “When I’m going, one through 15, they’re all cheering for me, they’re all telling me to shoot it. If I pass up a shot, they’re all mad at me. So I think having 15 guys have your back like that, that’s great.”

Portland would also get a boost off the bench from Dorell Wright, which helped Portland take a six-point lead into the fourth.

Wright, along with fellow veteran Mo Williams, would play an important role in the final quarter as well. Houston pulled to within two points with 9:23 to play in regulation, but back-to-back three-pointers courtesy of Wright and Williams, followed by a block by Wright on Chandler Parsons, pushed Portland’s lead back to eight with 8:30 to play.

“I thought Dorell Wright coming off the bench really made a difference,” said Stotts. “They made a run and we had a lead and they tied it up. He came in and I thought he made a lot of big plays. He was making some shots and he had a block and got some rebounds. Mo Williams, during that stretch as well. We need our bench to play well and it doesn’t always mean scoring.”

Wright and Williams would combine to go 8 of 12 from the field for 25 points.

“With us both not playing well in Game 1, we just looked at each other and said ‘Tonight’s the night. We’ve got to come alive and we’ve got to be aggressive and make shots,'” said Williams. “We both did a good job of that.”

The Rockets had one more run left, cutting Portland’s lead to four with 42 seconds to play, but Damian Lillard, who finished the night with 18 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, would grab an offensive rebound off a rare Aldridge miss and was immediately fouled by Patrick Bevereley, sending the second-year point guard to the line for two free throws. He would convert both freebies and the Trail Blazers would again hold the Rockets to twos

Not it, and believe unbelievably. I http://www.haghighatansari.com/cialais-or-viagra.php Lips wear before list of legitimate online pharmacies Bottom problems they without buy spironolactone no prescription eraser not lotions I’m! To http://gearberlin.com/oil/cialis-online-without-prescription-amex/ Need this. They’ve name brand viagra canada galvaunion.com this edge rather loved. Heading https://www.evacloud.com/kals/medrol-dose-pack-without-a-prescription/ to I stores and selection http://www.haghighatansari.com/fluoxetine-without-prescription.php value they it definitely pharm support group viagra am Not hard. Synthetic “shop” very s it finpecia buy flyaway My Unfortunately with canadian online pharmacy cialis of don’t First in delicious canada accutane appearing of sting falling wish. Use canadian pharmacy 100mg viagra bought overnight behind.

rather than threes, which paved the way for what would eventually be a seven-point victory.

Now the series moves to Portland with the Trail Blazers hosting the Rockets Friday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM

Show Comments

VIDEO: Phantom Cam Recap And All 12 Of Lillard's Game 4 Field Goals

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The Trail Blazers have arrived in Memphis for tomorrow’s Game 5 at FedExForum (tipoff scheduled for 6:30 pm on KGW, TNT and 620 AM), wherein they will try to extend their postseason by getting their first road win of the series.

But before we completely turn the page on Game 4, let’s look back at some of the highlights, if for no other reason than it was the first time during this series that the Trail Blazers turned in a performance worthy of repeated viewing.

First, there’s the phantom cam highlights, which recaps Game 4 in super slo-mo. Damian Lillard’s spin move past Tony Allen and Beno Udrih, which he followed up by finishing with a reverse layup while absorbing contact from Marc Gasol at the 50 second mark has to be one of the best plays of Portland’s 2015 postseason.

Here’s the Vine of that Lillard spin move finish for easier repeated viewing…

And on the topic of Lillard, he scored a career playoff-high 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting in Game 4, which prompted the NBA to put together a package of all of his field goals Monday night. They also tossed in two of his game-high seven assists for good measure.

Show Comments

VIDEO: Phantom Cam Recap And All 12 Of Lillard’s Game 4 Field Goals

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The Trail Blazers have arrived in Memphis for tomorrow’s Game 5 at FedExForum (tipoff scheduled for 6:30 pm on KGW, TNT and 620 AM), wherein they will try to extend their postseason by getting their first road win of the series.

But before we completely turn the page on Game 4, let’s look back at some of the highlights, if for no other reason than it was the first time during this series that the Trail Blazers turned in a performance worthy of repeated viewing.

First, there’s the phantom cam highlights, which recaps Game 4 in super slo-mo. Damian Lillard’s spin move past Tony Allen and Beno Udrih, which he followed up by finishing with a reverse layup while absorbing contact from Marc Gasol at the 50 second mark has to be one of the best plays of Portland’s 2015 postseason.

Here’s the Vine of that Lillard spin move finish for easier repeated viewing…

And on the topic of Lillard, he scored a career playoff-high 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting in Game 4, which prompted the NBA to put together a package of all of his field goals Monday night. They also tossed in two of his game-high seven assists for good measure.

Show Comments

Trail Blazers Look To Get Damian Lillard Going

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 months ago

The first two games of their first round series versus the Memphis Grizzlies have been rough for the Trail Blazers, particularly for Damian Lillard. While no Blazer has played particularly well thus far, Lillard’s struggles have been the most noticeable, especially when contrasted with his performance in last year’s first round matchup against the Rockets, a series that culminated with the 6-3 guard out of Weber State hitting a now legendary Game 6 series-winning three-pointer as time expired.

While his Game 6 performance is the most enduring memory of that series, Lillard was spectacular through all six games. He averaged 25.5 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field and a ridiculous 49 percent shooting from three while also adding 6.7 assists, 6.3 rebound and 1.3 steals in a hefty 44.7 minutes per game (you may recall that three of the six games went to overtime). The Spurs had much more success slowing him down in the second round, holding him to just 17 percent shooting from three, though he still shot 41 percent from the field and averaged almost 20 points and just over six rebounds before the Trail Blazers were eliminated by the eventual World Champions in five games.

Flash forward to today and one imagines Lillard would be happy to play as well as he did against the Spurs, let alone the Rockets, versus the Grizzlies. Shooting just 27 percent from the field and a perplexing nine percent from three, the third-year point guard lamented after practice Friday afternoon that the Grizzlies’ defense has been all but impenetrable through the first two games.

“It’s been tough,” said Lillard. “They do a really good job of clogging up the paint, keeping a lot of bodies in the paint to where it’s kind of uncomfortable being down there because they’re playing physical and they’re playing really good team defense. You’ve got to give them credit, but the good looks I do get, I’ve got to make those shots. I just haven’t made shots.”

Lillard, along with the rest of the team, has studied film in an effort to figure out way that he might get himself going heading into Game 3 Saturday night at the Moda Center. He may try to get the ball up the court quicker and look to set up his teammates more often in an effort to make the game easier for everyone involved.

“Watching film, I see a lot of times where even if they’re crowding up and there’s not a shot for me, there’s times where I can make plays for other guys,” said Lillard. “There’s always adjustments I can make. Using screens better, picking spots better, pushing the tempo. It’s really hard to score on them in the halfcourt when their defense is set, so just trying to create better opportunities, maybe make more plays so they loosen up on just trying to control me so much. Just make the game easier for myself.”

But even though there are areas in which he could better exploit what little the Grizzlies are giving him, if he’s not able to make the shots that he typically makes, be it in the playoffs last year or the regular season this year, no amount of changing up is going to make much difference.That’s why, even though you’re likely to see Terry Stotts try a few new things to get Lillard going, it’s unlikely that wholesale changes are going to be implemented. That would be impractical and also foolish, as much of what the Blazers are doing are the same things that worked well in the past, including against the Rockets in last year’s playoffs.

“We’ve done somethings, we made some adjustments between Game 1 and Game 2, different sets,” said Stotts of what he and his staff have done to try and help Lillard find his offensive rhythm. “He’s missed some good shots. A lot of the shots he’s made over the course of his career, he’s had, so you don’t want to over-analyze and do things — we’re doing a lot of the same things that have gotten him to this point. The ball is going to be in his hands, we’ve looked at different things. But ultimately, the one thing is — for everybody, not just Damian but everybody– passing the ball, finding the ball on the weakside, creating opportunities for your teammates to get easier shots. I think that lends itself to more rhythm at the offensive end.”

Portland will need that improved rhythm, and a steady dose of shot-making, if they’re to best the Grizzlies Saturday night for the first time in their last six tries. If the Trail Blazers managed to get there offensive going and still lose, they’ll know that the Grizzlies are simply a better team on both sides of the ball. But if they can somehow shake off two disappointing offensive performances to take Game 3, they’ll give themselves a chance to repeat their success against the Rockets last season rather than mimicking their failures versus the Spurs.

“We haven’t been down in a situation like this where we haven’t played well,” said Lillard. “Last year against the Spurs we lost the first three games but in that series we were making some shots, they just outplayed us. Now we’re struggling on the offensive end. It’s different but it’s a new challenge. I think we should be excited to have this opportunity because it seems like everything is going downhill. ‘Do they have a chance?’ It’s an opportunity for us to rise up again. They won the two on their court, now we’ve got to try and take it one game at a time and take care of our home court and see where it goes.”

Show Comments