Three days after falling in heartbreaking fashion to go down 3-1, the Rockets returned to the Toyota Center in need of a win to stave off elimination. With Dwight Howard playing one of his most complete games of the series and Jeremy Lin rebounding from a tough game four, the Rockets pulled out their second win of the series to force a game six in Portland.
The game took on more or less the same form as the previous four games of the series, with the Rockets taking an early lead and holding it into the fourth quarter. At one point in the second quarter, the Rockets led by as much as 17, and it seemed like they would finally give us the low stress contest we had been waiting for all series.
Anybody who has watched the previous four games of the series would be able to tell you that there would be no way this game would be headed for a relaxed fourth quarter. Right on cue, after building a nine point lead inside of ten minutes, the Blazers started chipping away, using the fact that they were in the bonus to get to the line with ease. Soon enough, the Rockets were up by just one.
It was a script all too familiar to the Rockets, but this time it had a happy ending. With the game within two with less than four minutes, a pair of clutch James Harden buckets paired with a Terrence Jones putback pushed the lead back to seven, and the Rockets would go on to control the rest of the game. Dwight Howard swatted a few more shots, James Harden made a few trips to the line, and the Rockets headed out of the Toyota Center with a 108-98 win.
With game six on the horizon, the Rockets still have a number of questions to answer. Jeremy Lin had his best game of the series and was at times the Rockets' most dynamic player, but James Harden remains inconsistent and has yet to break out of his slump. On top of that, Wesley Matthews put together a very strong offensive performance, and if he can translate that into game six, the Rockets will be in serious trouble.
We'll have more as the night continues, but for now, enjoy the win. With it, the Rockets move within two wins of escaping this nightmare first round.
Editor's note: Remember how much you enjoyed Blazers fans coming here after the first three losses? Please don't do it back to them.