The NBA playoffs have given us so many classic encounters in just the opening week. We might have been treated to the best one yet in Sunday evening’s chaotic match-up in Portland.
The Blazers ultimately prevailed by three, deep in overtime, but not before coming back from a big deficit, throwing it all away, coming back in the final minute of regulation and giving back almost all of a seven point overtime lead.
The Blazers used a 7-0 run to take control after a balanced start to the overtime before the Rockets came firing back, forcing the Blazers into back-to-back scoreless trips while taking advantage of some poor defensive efforts, trimming the lead to two.
James Harden then missed a go-ahead three over LaMarcus Aldridge before Lillard sank a pair of free throws.
Portland however then had Aldridge miss two free throws of his own before Dorell Wright fouled Game 3 hero Troy Daniels as he was shooting a three and the rookie knocked down all three free throws.
Mo Williams made two from the line before Wes Matthews came up with his second steal of the extra period, this time picking Pat Beverly’s pocket as he crossed halfcourt with four seconds left.
Portland had trailed by eight early in the fourth before going on an 18-5 run thanks to Houston’s inability to guard LaMarcus Aldridge and their own offensive stagnation.
Aldridge, after posting totals of 46, 43 and 23 in the first three games, scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Nic Batum made a bunch of crucial shots down the stretch and finished with 25 points while Damian Lillard was again impressive in a supporting role with 23.
Dwight Howard made several plays reminiscent of his time in Orlando with a pair of huge blocks at the rim and a dunk with 3.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. He had 25 points and 14 boards. James Harden led the Rockets with 28 points, though he rarely looked like taking over offensively.
The Rockets now return home trailing 3-1 in a series they were fancied to win and face a win-or-bust Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge: 29 points, 12-23 FGS, 10 rebounds
Nicolas Batum: 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Damian Lillard: 23 points, 6-13 FGS, 8 assists
James Harden: 28 points, 9-21 FGS, 6 assists
Dwight Howard: 25 points, 7-14 FGS, 14 rebounds
Chandler Parsons: 26 points, 11-18 FGS, 8 rebounds
Game 5 @ HOU: Wednesday, April 30th. Tip: 10:30pm ET