In front of a national audience and against a team quickly becoming a Western Conference powerhouse, the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge proved just how dominant he can be, and the Houston Rockets showed they’re still a young team searching for solidarity.
Aldridge put up numbers in the last two games in the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Rockets that would be silly in a video game. In Game 2 on Wednesday night, Aldridge had 43 points in 28 attempts from the field. He also racked up eight rebounds and three blocks. He is just the third player in NBA history to have 40 or more points in the first two playoff games in a series on the road.
At the start of the game, it was Dwight Howard who looked like he was going to dominate the game. He really did until about half way through the second quarter, when Aldridge and the Blazers kicked it into gear. Howard had 25 of the Rockets’ 50 points in the first half. He played well on defense too with four blocks.
However, Howard was the only one on the Rockets who showed up early, and he got into foul trouble by the fourth quarter. James Harden was cold from everywhere, Chandler Parsons showed only minor signs of aggressive play, but was largely a non-factor, and Jeremy Lin was just mediocre. Howard ended the game with 32 points, but no other player on the team broke 20.
The Rockets fought to the end of the game, and despite their lackluster play, the Blazers could not put them away. If it wasn’t for Aldridge’s epic performance, the Blazers would not have won.
Robin Lopez was the unsung hero down low, grabbing 10 rebounds and three blocks. His stat sheet won’t excite you, but he stopped the penetration by guys like Harden, Parsons, and Lin. Also, Howard was not a factor as much in the second half largely due to Lopez’s improvement on defense, and a quicker double team coming from the forwards Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.
It’s unlikely Aldridge will keep this kind of play going, as the Rockets should find a way to slow him down. However, that outside jumper of his is hard to defend, and the home crowd in Portland should help get the others involved. At their home court, don’t be surprised to see the Blazers come up with a surprising sweep of the fizzled out Rockets.