James Harden and Jeremy Lin's scoring led the Rockets to victory tonight in overtime. Wesley Matthews, LeMarcus Aldridge, and Damien Lillard led a Blazers charge that held the lead for a majority of the game before Houston stormed back in the fourth quarter. Lin and Harden scores 67 of Houston's 118 points on the evening. Lin scored all but 4 of the Rockets bench points on the night.
Harden finished with a ridiculous 41 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals, leading the majority of the offensive effort. He tied his career high for three pointers in a game with 7 (on 12 attempts). Howard got in foul trouble early which forced our back-court to pick up the slack in a crucial game for playoff standing as the season winds to a close.
The Blazers jumped out to an early lead 10-0 lead before the Rockets were able to get their offense going; an operation largely fueled by 11 first quarter Harden points. Parsons also contributed to the early game offense with 8 point in the opening period. Houston shot 50% in the first quarter but was uncharacteristically losing the rebounding contest 16-7. Dwight Howard picked up two fouls early, limiting him to just 3 minutes of first quarter play. On top of that, the three point shot wasn't going down; Houston shot just 1 of 8 (12.5%) from beyond the arc. On the upside, the Rockets only turned over the ball 3 times for just 2 points.
Jeremy Lin ended Houston's first quarter with a very missed, silky smooth mid-range jumper, bringing the score to 30-28 Portland. The Rockets offense, however, had trouble getting things running the way they would like and Portland seemed to be able to create opportunities at the rim without much issue.
Once Dwight Howard got back on the court, he was able to start imposing his will, leading the Rockets in scoring in the second quarter. Both teams were getting getting to the line with relative ease most of the evening.
At the end of the half, Houston was down 54-47. Despite the deficit, it was nice to see Lin come out and be aggressive in pushing the ball. He had a could of strong drives right before the first half as the Rockets offense came barreling down the court. The second half also started with more Lin theatrics, carrying over his first half performance.
Everytime the Rockets were able to string a few plays together, however, Portland came right back and exloited our defense for a corresponding score, maintaining the Trailblazer lead hovering around ten for significant stretches.
The third period was defined by Harden and Howard but the Blazers won the quarter on the scoreboard. Portland was able to get up 10 more field goal attempts than Houston, so despite shooting a significantly lower field goal percentage they were able to put points on the board.
The fourth quarter was James Harden time for the most part. James scored 17 of his 41 points in the final quarter, hitting 4 of his 5 three point attempts.
Down seven with under 5 minutes left, Houston went to James Harden after a Portland turnover. One high pick and roll later, James had a wide open three pointer and cut the lead to 4. Somehow Harden found himself open again for another three pointer that brought the lead down to just 3 with under three minutes.
Portland could not seem to put points on the board down the stretch, turning the ball over and missing free throws on crucial possessions. The lead was brought down to just one as the two minute mark approached. Jeremy Lin gave Houston their first lead after nailing a three pointer on a pass from a driving Harden. Houston quickly gave the lead back up going into the final seconds.
Once Houston was put in fouling mode, Portland split their next free throw attempts which made 3 with eleven seconds left in the game. After the timeout, Houston set up a play along the baseline on the inbound and Harden sank a three pointer to tie the game. During a hectic end of regulation, Beverley got an interesting three point runner that just bounced out of the rim, forcing overtime.
In OT, Lillard opened things up by responding with a three pointer of his own. On the next possession, Lillard got called for his sixth foul on offense and Beverley immediately got his sixth as well. Harden's heroics showed up yet again, sinking another three pointer to tie the ball game with 90 seconds left.
Jeremy Lin gave Houston its biggest lead of the game....at 2. His vintage mid-range shooting and some impressive defense gave the Rockets a three point lead and a trip to the free throw line to seal the victory.
Now we look forward to reclaiming our pride against an OKC team that has beaten us thoroughly in recent history. This win extends the Houston winning streak to 5 and propels us further into home court in the playoffs. Overtime games are always exciting, especially when they end in victories.
Houston is hitting their stride at exactly the right time, now to stay healthy and keep it up into April...