Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets in some hot playoff basketball option.
This series has been out of control. Three games in and we’ve already had three unbelievable classics. Three stressful classics. I should probably go get my blood pressure checked to make sure I’m not dead or dying.
The Blazers miraculously stole two games (and home court advantage) from the Rockets, but after Friday night’s win Houston is one win away from stealing it right back. Even though the Portland players have done their best to downplay his comments, James Harden was correct in saying the pressure is now on the home team. Tonight is a must win for Portland.
Hopefully Troy Daniels used up all his supply of wicked sorcery. There’s no way he can hit another game-winning shot, right?
The Blazers had numerous chances to put away game three. It was theirs to lose. They took Houston’s best punch and nearly came away with a victory.
All credit is due to Terry Stotts. He has been coaching one hell of a series. Going head to head against Kevin McHale, Stotts has left no doubts as to the better coach in this matchup. McHale used his one trump card in game three, inserting Omer Asik into the starting lineup to guard LaMarcus Aldridge, and Portland still almost won. It seems weird to say considering how close this series has been, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Blazers blow this one out.
Shoot, if they go at James Harden every single play, they'll score infinity points. His defense has been atrocious. If Portland had continued to attack him off the dribble during overtime in game three, there's no doubt they would have won. Lillard and Batum were eating him alive, and they should do everything possible to get him stuck in pick and rolls all night long.
Joey Crawford isn’t in the building to play defense, but we do have Ed “Oh, Ed Malloy” Malloy. I hate talking about refs, but they've done such a poor job this series on both ends of the ball. Just one well officiated game would be nice.
Portland is rolling with black socks tonight. Normally that wouldn't be news, but Aldridge organized the trend to "support our brothers" in response to Donald Sterling being who we thought he was.
TNT sure knows how to suck the life out of a building. Tonight's tip-off has been pushed back to 6:49pm. Grab another beer, we'll be waiting awhile longer for this one to start.
11:25 - LaMarcus for two! He was working on his jumper before the game right from that spot, and the practice appears to have paid off. 2-0 Blazers.
9:04 - Damian Lillard with the sweet alley oop to Nicolas Batum. He looked like he was going to pull up for three, instead dishing to a streaking Batum who laid it in with ease. That extra pass. 6-5 Blazers.
8:35 - Dwight Howard tried to throw down a huge two-handed slam and missed. The ball ricocheted twenty feet into the air, and this crowd is letting him hear it. Nothing like watching a player you don't like screw up to really get those juices flowing. 6-5 Blazers.
6:17 - Harden has one foul already, so the Blazers have gone to Matthews in the post two straight times. Wesley converted on both with ease. 12-12 Tie.
5:43 - A laaaaate whistle comes in after Robin Lopez blocks Dwight Howard at the rim. That's trouble, as Lopez will now have to sit with two fouls. 14-14 Tie.
4:29 - Dame shot that pull up three from Beaverton. Nothing but net. 18-17 Rockets.
4:06 - Matthews drew a charge on James Harden, Harden's second foul of the night, and it's getting loud in here. What a play, and even better that it came against the beard. 18-17 Rockets.
1:48 - Troy Daniels is in the game, and I'm breaking out in PTSD-induced cold sweats. 23-19 Rockets.
1:17 - Aaaaand, rightfully so. Daniels just drilled a corner three. Ugh. 26-19 Rockets.
0:45 - Another three for Daniels. Whoo boy, that kid is feeling it right now. 29-22 Rockets.
0:00 - After drawing a foul on Joel Freeland, Dwight Howard picked up a technical for something. He must have said something to the ref, because it didn't look like much from up here. Dame hit the technical free throw, and Dwight missed both of his freebies. Still, behind Chandler Parsons and Troy Daniels (him?!), the Rockets finish the quarter on top. 29-23 Rockets.
11:16 - Troy Daniels had his two pointer blocked, but off of the loose ball Daniels spotted up in the corner and drained the three. Can someone please make this wizardry stop? 32-23 Rockets.
9:04 - Portland calls time, but what they really need is a defensive stop. Houston is shooting 57% from the floor and 50% from deep. 38-29 Rockets.
8:20 - I never thought I'd say this, but boy am I glad James Harden is checking back in for Troy Daniels. 40-33 Rockets.
6:47 - Chandler Parsons is killing it tonight. The only placed he's struggling is at the line where he's 0-2. Houston is grabbing a ton of offensive boards (8) and getting second chance points (12), three more coming from that last Parsons triple. There's you're ball game. 45-35 Rockets.
5:37 - Not too sure what happened to Matthews, but he appears to be in some pain, grimacing and trying to shake out his elbow. That is not a good sign. Portland needs all the defense they can get tonight. 45-37 Rockets.
3:48 - Two more points off of an offensive rebound, but there is reason to complain on this one. Dwight Howard was straight holding Robin Lopez's arm, and Patrick Beverley was able to sneak in and steal the rebound. No call, of course, but man that was blatant hold. 49-39 Rockets.
2:33 - The Blazers need to start getting some stops and go on a little run here before the end of the quarter. Trading baskets isn't working. 51-41 Rockets.
1:18 - Stop on one end, alley oop on the other. That's the way to do it. Get this crowd going. 53-46 Rockets.
0:28 - Well that's a rough sequence to end the quarter on. Matthews tried to draw a charge on Harden, but no call came. Harden stepped back and drained a three, and Matthews picked up a technical arguing the lack of a foul. Brutal. 59-48 Rockets.
0:06 - Matthews makes up for it with a three on the other end! 59-51 Rockets.
0:00 - Well, Patrick Beverley is able to pick up fouls apparently. He fell down right into Aldridge and somehow got free throws. The crowd is livid, serenading the refs with a raucous chorus of boos as we enter the half. 61-51 Rockets.
11:40 - What looked like it was going to be a turnover resulted in a wide open dunk for Aldridge. A nice start to the quarter, corralling a loose ball and getting the basket. 61-53 Rockets.
10:09 - James Harden is awake on offense. His defense is still awful, but if he can hit threes of off screens like he just did, Portland is in trouble. 66-56 Rockets.
9:26 - Omer Asik hit a fifteen foot jumper. It might just be Houston's night. 58-58 Rockets.
7:45 - Three straight turnovers for the Rockets, the last coming on a James Harden charge. Now, if only the Blazers can score. 71-60 Rockets.
6:59 - The Blazers have been hunting for fouls but the refs just aren't calling them. Batum looked to get hit by Harden and Dame had a three fall four feet short because it looked like he was fouled, but no whistles were called on either play. Finally, LaMarcus was able to get a whistle, picking up a third foul on Asik. He made both freebies. 71-62 Rockets.
6:12 - A Lillard three that energized this crowd was completely erased on the other end by a massive Dwight Howard alley oop on the other end. Oof. 73-65 Rockets.
4:33 - Four fouls on Asik, which means Terrence Jones is about to become lunch meat. And, right on cue, Aldridge dunks on the next Portland possession. 75-69 Rockets.
2:44 - Is that Dirk? Or just LaMarcus throwing one-legged fadeaways in Dwight Howard's face? The door is open for Portland—Asik is out, they are getting the stops they need, but they just can't quite get over the hump. That jumper has this crowd amped and it might be time for a run. 79-74 Rockets.
2:20 - Dwight Howard with the huge answer, taking LaMarcus down low and scoring on the block. Portland calls time to regroup and settle. 81-74 Rockets.
1:32 - Thomas Robinson with the huge rejection on a Dwight alley oop attempt, but once again, Portland can't convert on their next possession. 81-74 Rockets.
0:33 - We have our first scuffle of the series! After they missed what looked to be a goaltending call on an Aldridge put back, the refs called a foul on Mo Williams as he was hounding Terrence Jones at half-court. Williams and Jones got up in the other's grill, and offsetting techs were called. The crowd is serenading the refs with chants of "bullshit" and "these refs suck" like all good crowds should. Terrence Jones missed both of his free throws. Ball don't lie. 82-74 Rockets.
0:00 - Mo Williams was fouled driving the length of the court, hoisted up a three, but the refs called it as a foul on the floor. Portland had one more look with two seconds left, and amidst the loudest "these refs suck" chants of the night, Dame sprang open for a corner three. Nothing but net. There we go. Time to settle and get ready for the stretch run. The Blazers have to get this win tonight. 84-79 Rockets.
10:51 - You guys! Troy Daniels missed a three! Get that witchcraft out of here. On the other end, Dame drove and picked up a fifth foul on Asik. Both free throws were good. 84-81 Rockets.
10:06 - Dorell Wright for three! 86-84 Rockets.
8:31 - So close! Within two! But then James Harden decided to hit four straight, and Jeremy Lin chipped in two of his own, and the Blazers need time. 92-84 Rockets.
6:41 - Wesley Matthews is not going to lose this game. If you feel yourself getting nervous about the outcome, just look at Wesley. Bucket, steal, foul drawn. He's found his extra gear. 94-89 Rockets.
5:57 - Holy hell, this game is tied. Dame for three, forever and ever. 94-94 Tie.
5:21 - The Blazers just played 23.9 seconds of amazing defense, and James Harden still drained a fadeaway thirty-foot desperation three. 97-94 Rockets.
4:32 - Batum for three! Blazers lead! The crowd is on their feet, and I don't think they'll be sitting down for the rest of the night. This place is going off. Basketball! 99-97 Blazers.
3:30 - Dwight tried to throw down a dunk, but Lopez was there for the rejection! What a huge stop. Batum grabbed the rebound and was fouled in transition, but was only able to split the pair of free throws. 100-97 Blazers.
2:50 - Harden missed a three (!!), and Lopez came skying in for a huge rebound in traffic. The Blazers immediately went to a pick and roll with Lillard, who found a rolling Aldridge for the easy two. I can't even describe how nuts this place is right now. 102-97 Blazers.
2:37 - Killer. Howard was able to pick up a foul on Robin Lopez in the post, his sixth. Robin has been huge this fourth. The Blazers are going to go small with Mo Williams. Everyone on Portland has to has to has to crash the boards from here on out. No second chance points. Howard made 'em both. 102-99 Blazers.
2:10 - Two more free throws for Dwight. The first one is up...and it's off! The second one is up...and it's in. 102-100 Blazers.
1:11 - Dwight Howard with two huge stops here late, picking up blocks on a Lillard drive and on a Batum dunk attempt. Off of that last block, Harden was able to leak out into transition and pick up the foul. Two free throws later, and we're all tied. up. 102-102 Tie.
0:50 - Harden falls down, Harden gets the foul call. The crowd is letting the refs hear it again. That call was a tough call. 104-102 Rockets.
0:18 - Holy hell! Portland missed, and the Rockets got the rebound. Mo Williams picked Jeremy Lin's pocket from behind as he started to drive up court. Matthews corralled the loose ball, but missed his shot in the lane. Lillard grabbed that offensive rebound, the ball swung around the perimeter, and Mo Williams knocked down the triple! Blazers lead! 105-104 Blazers.
0:08 - James Harden drove the lane, but LaMarcus Aldridge was there for the block! What?! Dorell Wright grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He stepped to the line...but was only able to split the pair. Oh man. My heart. I can't take this stress. Rockets can go for the tie or lead here with one last play. 106-104 Blazers.
0:03 - Harden drives the lane for the tie, draws two defenders, and dishes it to Dwight Howard for the easy dunk. This series. Portland will have one chance for the win. Can they make some magic happen? 106-106 Tie.
0:00 - Mo Williams with a clean look for the win...and it's long. Free basketball, once again, for the third time in four games. 106-106 Tie.
4:37 - Matthews picked Dwight's pocket as he was making his move in the post, then wrestled the loose ball away from him and called timeout. When he got up off the floor, Matthews was amped. Again, he's not losing this game. 106-106 Tie.
4:25 - Well, Chandler Parsons decided to go out in style. Aldridge had a wide open dunk attempt, and Parsons went headhunting. For a second Aldridge looked like he might have been ready to throw down, but calmer heads prevailed. The call on the floor is a flagrant foul. It's only a flagrant one so Parsons isn't tossed, but it's still two shots and the ball for the Blazers. Aldridge to the line, and he hit them both. 108-106 Blazers.
4:09 - And Portland turns it over on their free possession. Ugh. 108-106 Blazers.
3:22 - If you're going to foul someone, might as well make it Dwight Howard. No easy baskets from this point forward, and LaMarcus sent Dwight to the line rather than giving up a dunk. Unfortunately, Dwight hit them both. 110-110 Tie.
2:52 - The Rockets keep going to Dwight in the post, and he just turned it over after Aldridge knocked it away! Blazers ball off of Dwight's leg!
2:34 - Batum for three! Yes! That's five straight for Nico, and as he walked back to the bench he pointed to the court to let everyone know whose house this is. Damn. 115-110 Blazers.
2:16 - After a Harden missed three, the Blazers rushed down the court and Lillard had an easy layup in transition! This place is exploding! 117-110 Blazers.
1:27 - Troy Daniels?! No, not that guy! The Blazers failed to grab an offensive rebound, and he made them pay with a corner three. 119-115 Blazers.
0:17 - I don't even. The Blazers turned it over, and the Rockets had a chance to take the lead on a James Harden three. He barely missed over the out-stretched arms of Aldridge, and Howard fouled Matthews on the rebound opportunity. Blazers ball, up two. 119-117 Blazers.
0:17 - The Rockets foul immediately, sending Lillard to the line for two, and he calmly sunk them both! A little (I repeat: little) breathing room. 121-117 Blazers.
0:12 - Chandler Parsons three is off! Aldridge is fouled! Portland is going to pull this one out. Aldridge steps to the line for his free throws. The first one is up...and it rattles off. Ugh. The second one is up...and it's off, too! No! Houston ball, ten seconds left. 121-117 Blazers.
0:09 - Wow. Dorell Wright fouls Troy Daniels on a three-point attempt. All three are money. 121-120 Blazers.
0:08 - Mo Williams to the line after the Rockets foul. First one is down! Second one is down! No timeouts left for Houston. 123-120 Blazers.
0:00 - WHAT?! The Rockets had one last chance to tie but they had to go the length of the floor. Wesley Matthews picked Patrick Beverley's pocket at mid-court. He fell on the loose ball, and this one is over! Blazers win! Matthews is amped, losing his ish at mid-court. He earned that one.
FINAL: 123-120 Blazers. It was a must-win, and they won. Portland is now one win away from making it to the second round of the playoffs. Game five will be in Houston on Wednesday. I need a few days off. I can't handle another one of these games right away.