The Rockets escaped Toyota Center on Thursday night with a 96-94 win over the Trail Blazers thanks to a go-ahead driving layup by Chris Paul with 0.8 seconds remaining.
For most of the game, it looked like the Rockets were on cruise control. However, the fourth quarter came and proved that to be untrue. Despite being up by as many as 24 points and 13 in the fourth quarter, the Rockets won by a solitary shot by none other than CP3.
The Rocket backcourt tonight was sensational. CP3 scored 27, while Harden had 24. Paul was electric and efficient on 11-19 shooting.
In terms of the rest of the squad, Clint Capela posted an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double and Luc Mbah a Moute stole five balls from the Blazers tonight off the bench.
The Blazers definitely missed Damian Lillard tonight, who was out with an ankle injury. And C.J. McCollum was an abysmal 7-25 from the floor, but Portland found a spark in Wade Baldwin IV. The former Vanderbilt Commodore had 14 off the bench and was a large part in why Portland stayed in the game.
The scrappy Blazer bench fought hard tonight and showed heart through a difficult position going against the league’s winningest team without their All-Star player, but the team should be pleased with their efforts tonight. Portland simply dug themselves into a hole too deep in the first half.
As a team, the Blazers shot 45 percent and made just 7-22 threes, good for 31 percent. Meanwhile, the Rockets shot 46 percent and made 13 threes. There is an argument that this is where the game was won and lost. Had Dame played, this recap could be written as a losing one.
But the Rockets pulled it off despite a horrendous fourth quarter in which the team scored 12 points. It’s good that the Rockets are getting this out of their system now before playoff time because this will not fly in a seven-game series.
Despite a winning effort, I’m sure the team is disappointed and will look to rebound on Saturday night when the Thunder comes to town. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. CT.