Game One: Dwight Howard Fouling Out
With the Rockets trailing by a single point in overtime and fourteen seconds on the clock James Harden pulled up for a three pointer to give the Rockets a two point lead. As Harden released, his shot was followed from the bench by the eyes of Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both had fouled out. Leaving British seven foot tall guy in a basketball jersey Joel Freeland guarding Dwight Howard in an NBA playoff game.
Freeland immediately panicked.
He wrapped up Dwight at the free throw line before the ball even hit the rim. A hard miss sent the ball right to Dwight who was pinned. The referee blew a whistle. The announcer called a foul on Freeland. The referee called a foul on Howard.
As the second free throw went up you could feel Rasheed Wallace gulping down oxygen while preparing to bellow "Ball Don't Lie" on behalf of Dwight Howard. Freeland hit one of two free throws which should have belonged to the fouled out Howard. The Rockets lost by two points.
In a moment of supreme trolldom the NBA later admitted the mistake.
Game Two: LaMarcus Aldridge's First Half
Dwight Howard told the league he was going to demand the ball more in game two. By halftime he had 25 points while shooting 11 of 17 and would have appeared unstoppable -- Only LaMarcus Aldridge was doing exactly the same thing.
Aldridge scored 23 first half points on his way to 43. A respectable total, but not quite the franchise best 46 points he dropped in the previous game (sarcasm).
I'm marking this as the most frustrating portion of the game because Dwight looked like Orlando Dwight again. He was unstoppable in one-on-one situations and had Toyota Center following his every move. But the entire thing was muted by the continued MVP play of LaMarcus Aldridge who abused anyone who tried to put a hand in his face.
It was an epic duel. But one that made clear the Rockets were not going to walk away with an easy homecourt victory to even up the series. Here's the duel:
Game Three: Jeremy Lin's Drive
The Rockets had fought tooth and nail for a narrow three point lead with just under a minute to go in game three. A lead they had to hold to avoid almost certain playoff elimination.
Dwight Howard collected a rebound and fed Jeremy Lin who avoided an attempt by the TrailBlazers to trap him by the scorers table with a burst of speed. He blew past half court just ahead of Lillard, Aldridge and Williams. The only other Rocket on the offensive end of the floor was a cross court Chandler Parsons.
In this situation the best thing to do would be to burn the clock. There's 50 seconds left in the game and 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Instead, Lin went straight to the hole where he missed a layup contested by a trailing Aldridge.
The ball went back down the court where Nic Batum drilled a game tying three shifting the entire dynamic of the game once again. If we could go back in time, we'd most likely want Lin to slow things down and burn the clock more in an attempt to run a play or force the Blazers to foul -- Minute 3:33
Before you pile on me for hating on Lin -- He was a MAN in overtime. Aldridge gave him an elbow to the face worthy of an ice pack. He calmly drilled both free throws. He's also the one who created Troy Daniels big moment by saving a loose ball and picking up an assist.
So there's my most frustrating moment from each game. Feel free to share yours in the comments.
The best part about game four -- None of this matters.