James Harden had 48 points tonight and led the charge in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul enjoyed a season-high with 26 points and seven assists.
The Blazers did an excellent job tonight bringing Houston off of their game in the early phases of the contest. Portland pushed Houston off of the three-point line and forced them to shoot difficult contested two-pointers all night long. The team was giving Houston fits in the early stages of the game, as Portland was in control of this game for the majority of the night.
A stat that the Rockets usually dominate, three-point attempts, was in favor of Portland tonight. The Blazers made 18 of their 41 shots from beyond the arc, good for 43.9 percent. The Rockets only made 10 of 25, 40 percent, and had just six made threes before entering the fourth.
The Blazers jumped to a double-digit lead in the first half, but a 10-0 run from the Rockets down the stretch brought the game to a stalemate going into the half. The teams were tied at 62, but the Rockets carried the momentum into the half. Harden had 28 and Damian Lillard had 22. It was certainly a battle of superstars tonight.
In the third quarter, the Rocket offense however came out just like Kyrie Irving’s view of the world: flat. Houston made just five shots from the floor, but the only reason the team stayed in the game was the amount of fouls Portland committed. Houston made 11 of 16 shots from the foul line in the third quarter and the team went 34-42 overall in the game. Heading to the line at such a frequent rate disrupted the Rockets’ offensive rhythm and the team suffered tremendously. The ball movement was not as successful either. The team had just 14 assists as a team, far below the numbers we are used to seeing from the Rockets. Going into the fourth, this game looked like a loss.
However, the script was flipped in the fourth quarter with Houston trailing 98-84. Lillard hurt his ankle late in the third and started the fourth quarter on the bench. Houston’s second unit was able to force turnovers on Portland’s first three possessions and began chipping away. The group brought the deficit to single digits before The Beard came in with nine minutes to go and finish the job.
Houston took the lead for good with 3:40 in the fourth when Trevor Ariza hit a transition threeball to go up 110-109. Houston would go on to score a whopping 40 points in the final frame as the Blazers went cold and only put up 19.
Houston should not have won this game tonight. The formula they use for winning was not shown in tonight’s win, but great teams find ways to win no matter the circumstance. Despite being down double digits in the fourth quarter on the road, this team was able to get it done. Guys, we have a special team on our hands.
The win marks Houston’s ninth straight as they will now travel home to embark on a seven-game homestand. The first game of the stretch comes Monday as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins lead the Pelicans into town. Tipoff is at 7:00 PM CT.