Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets in some hot playoff basketball action.
This is it. Game six. Win tonight and it’s onto the next round. Lose and it’s back to Houston for an impossible game seven. (Shoutout to Zaza Pachulia!) Portland technically has two more chances to win once, but tonight is a must win. Nobody wants to travel back to Houston for one more game. The good news is that the Blazers are an undefeated 9-0 in close out home games in a seven game series, the most famous of those coming in 1977.
Also working in Portland’s favor is that LaMarcus Aldridge will not be held to single digit points again. The lofty heights set by his two forty-point plus games earlier in this series are mostly unattainable, but a solid 25/10 game is definitely in play. He won’t be shut down. Someone on the Rockets is going to become lunchmeat.
Oh, and Jeremy Lin? There’s no way dude single-handedly carries the Rockets again. Some of the buzzer-beaters he was hitting on Wednesday were out of control. Linsanity is dead. Long live Linsanity.
Just like every other game so far in this crazy series, tonight is going to be a roller coaster of madness and emotions. But this is the home court. Tonight is where this series ends. We are Rip City.
LaMarcus Aldrige got the early buzz, Wesley Matthews was the champion of game four, but Damian Lillard has been the rock of this series. And, surprise surprise, the national media is taking note. Just today Grantland gave him pole position in their postseason power rankings. Did I mention this is the first playoff series of his career? Dame is a treasure, and a delight.
I feel like I keep saying this before every game, but James Harden will go off at some point. There’s no way he can keep playing this poorly. Portland’s scheme is doing a good job of disrupting his rhythm, sure, but funks are temporary. I refuse to believe he is this bad of a basketball player. Because, man, he's been baaaaad.
I'm incredibly sick right now, so if this live blog devolves into fever-dream hysteria, you know why. This is my Flu Game. When it's all over, I'm going to drop my laptop like a mic and wait for Scottie Pippen to come help me out of the arena.
Oh dang, Jalen Rose is rocking a Dr. Jack patch. Shut it down. This one is over.
11:42 - The Blazers win the tip, and Wesley Matthews drains a three. The Rockets doubled Aldridge in the post, and he did a great job of passing out to the open shooter. This place is getting hype right now. 3-0 Blazers.
10:57 - Aldridge with the one-footed Dirk fadeaway! His first shot is down. That is a good omen. 5-0 Blazers.
10:22 - Yeah, Portland came to play. Aldridge shook Omer Asik off of him with a wicked step-back, nothing but net. Houston needs time already. This is as raucous as the home crowd has been all series. 7-0 Blazers.
9:18 - James Harden silenced the crowd with a made three and two straight steals that led to Chandler Parsons baskets in transition. Just like that, this lead has evaporated. 7-7 Tie.
7:16 - This is James Harden's game. I told y'all it was coming. He's got eight points, two made threes, two steals, and about a hundred mean mugs. 12-11 Rockets.
6:20 - Harden ran Batum ragged along the baseline, drained a three right in his face. It's going to be a long night. 15-13 Rockets.
5:30 - Wesley Matthews dove over the scorer's table to save a ball from going out of bounds, and LaMarcus cooly drained the jumper after Portland retained possession. All heart, grit grind. 17-15 Rockets.
4:11 - Blazers showing a great tribute to Dr. Jack during this last timeout. His banner in the rafters has been illuminated all game as well. Solid work, all around. 20-17 Rockets.
3:36 - Great, another Jeremy Lin three as the shot clock was winding down. I guess this Linsanity thing is still happening. 23-17 Rockets.
2:39 - I don't want to live in a world where Omer Asik can nail two free throws. I also don't want to live in a world where James Harden just puts his head down and gets a foul call. After an amazing start, the Blazers find themselves down ten. For those keeping track, that's a 27-10 run for Houston. Blurg. 27-17 Rockets.
1:14 - Troy Daniels missed an open three! Phew! I was having wicked flashbacks as that thing left his hands. 27-19 Rockets.
0:36 - Oh shit! Damian Lillard four-point play! He use an Aldridge pick, rose up, and nailed the three and Troy Daniels got him across the arm. A few more of those, please! 27-25 Rockets.
0:00 - Game. Face. With the clock winding down, Lillard called off a Lopez pick. He started to drive left against Jeremy Lin, hit him with a step-back crossover, and found nothing but the bottom of the net on a three-pointer as the clock expired. He's got that look in his eye. No emotion, no celebration. He's dialed in. 29-28 Rockets.
10:54 - Dame played the full first quarter, and he's still out there. Can he play 48 minutes? We'll find out. After going over it, he scored the final nine points for the Blazers at the end of the first quarter. Oh, in just over a minute of play. 31-30 Rockets.
10:35 - Lillard finally gets his rest. Let's see how well the offense does in his absence. My guess? Not good. 32-30 Rockets.
9:40 - Thomas Robinson fadeaway for the lead? Sure, why not? 34-32 Blazers.
8:45 - While battling for rebounding position, Dwight Howard caught Robin Lopez with a high elbow right across the throat. Dwight can't believe there was anything called, but the refs have hit him with a flagrant regardless. During the timeout, the refs reviewed it and downgraded it to a common foul. Boo. 34-34 Tie.
6:18 - LaMarcus in the post is working much better tonight than it has the last two games. He's getting his shot off over Omer Asik, and those jumpers are falling with a little more ease tonight. Portland's offense was sputtering a bit, but LaMarcus was able to drain a step-back over Asik. Dame has to get back into this game now. 40-40 Tie.
5:18 - Dear Wesley Matthews: Please don't leave James Harden to double Dwight Howard. Not tonight. Howard is struggling and Harden has been red hot. That three he just drained in your face? Yeah, that will keep happening if you leave him alone for a second. 46-42 Rockets.
4:04 - LaMarcus is just straight abusing Omer Asik right now. He's gaining position, hitting him with fadeaways, and Asik hasn't been able to do a thing. Aldridge just got Asik in the air and was able to draw the foul and hit the basket. He's doing work, and Asik now has three fouls. 48-47 Rockets.
3:25 - You want a piece, Dwight? Nah. You don't. Aldridge set up shop on the block against Howard, drove baseline with a quick first step, and Dwight picked up his third foul on the night. Both Rockets big men are now in foul trouble, and Aldridge has 19 points. Lunchmeat. 48-47 Rockets.
2:00 - Dame and LaMarcus are doing the lord's work tonight. This is a revival tent, and we are all believers. 54-50 Blazers.
0:40 - Matthews with three straight misses—that dagger three was so close to being down—and right when the Blazers had all the momentum, the Rockets have dug themselves right back into this. 56-54 Rockets.
0:11 - The difference between tonight and the rest of this series? James Harden is getting the superstar calls again. He's got ten freebies already. 58-54 Rockets.
0:00 - Mo Willams was able to drain a jumper with the clock winding down, but the Blazers still enter the half down two. Harden has 24 (again, 10 of those coming on free throws), while LaMarcus has 21. The Blazers are going to have to ride Aldridge and Dame in the second half. Let the stars take this one home. 58-56 Rockets.
10:56 - The Rockets go right to Dwight Howard and James Harden to start the quarter, and both are able to score with ease. The stars came to play, and this crowd is getting a little uneasy with the sluggish start to the third. 62-56 Rockets.
9:33 - Aldridge finally gets Portland on the board in the quarter, and everyone lets out a giant sigh of relief. 62-58 Rockets.
8:35 - A Dwight Howard dunk caps off a 8-2 run for the Rockets. The crowd wants to erupt, they just need a reason. Portland takes time to settle the nerves. This half is for the season. Time to find an extra gear. 66-58 Rockets.
8:10 - Dame corner three out of the timeout. That'll do. 66-61 Rockets.
7:23 - Harden tried to flop on a Robin Lopez screen, but with no whistle. Batum then hit a rolling Lopez who through down a vicious one-handed dunk over Omer Asik. That's showing up on Sporscenter later. 68-63 Rockets.
6:22 - The Rockets tried to send a double at Aldridge, but he wisely threw a jump pass to a wide open Lopez under the basket. That's what happens when you double. Somebody is bound to be open. That's all on how well Aldridge has been playing tonight. 70-65 Rockets.
5:56 - LaMarcus! Three-point play! Even better, that was Dwight's fourth foul. 72-68 Rockets.
3:58 - The last two looks from Dame has juuuuust rattled out. His shot is still right there. He needs to keep being aggressive with those looks. 73-69 Rockets.
3:09 - Blazers do a great job to get a turnover, but Matthews mowed down Lin in transition. Offensive foul. The crowd is chanting "bullshit" but that was the right call. Portland is having trouble again capitalizing on their stops. 73-69 Rockets.
1:55 - Dame. Buckets. All because the Rockets keep feeling the need to try and double Aldridge in the post. 75-74 Rockets.
1:10 - Aldridge earned the right to snarl off of the offensive rebound and put back dunk. He's doing the heavy lifting. Own it. 77-76 Rockets.
0:00 - The Blazers held the Rockets scoreless on their final possession. After the ball got knocked out of bounds by a great Thomas Robinson defensive swipe, the Rockets had .03 to try and get a shot off. They missed at the rim, but there is some confusion heading into the break as the clock appeared to start before anyone had touched the ball. It looks like the Rockets will get .02 back on the clock, and we'll replay the end of the third once again. Ultimately it doesn't matter—Jeremy Lin missed a desperation three as time actually wound down for a second time. It's going to be a wild fourth, once again. 79-78 Rockets.
11:00 - Batum for three! Blazers lead! 81-79 Blazers.
10:15 - You play Thomas Robinson for one purpose: hustle. Dude tracked down an offensive rebound and put it in right over Dwight Howard. If he brings the energy, he could absolutely swing this game. 83-81 Blazers.
9:43 - Right on cue, Robinson does a stellar job on one end shutting down Terrence Jones and forcing a 24 second violation. He then scored a massive dunk off of a pick and roll on the other end. He has this crowd feeling it. 85-81 Blazers.
8:48 - Oof. The roof was about to explode. Robinson had James Howard on him in the post, hit him with a nice spin move to spring free...but Dwight Howard came over out of nowhere and completely erased his shot attempt. 85-83 Blazers.
7:16 - After both teams missed gimmes at the rim, Howard tied it up with a sweeping hook in the lane. He won't miss from the close. 85-85 Tie.
6:21 - Lopez against Harden in the post? Why the hell not? That's two straight trips where the Rockets got stuck with Harden guarding Lopez, and Robin made him pay twice. 89-87 Blazers.
5:03 - Robin Lopez is putting in the dirty work. In the last twenty minutes he's finished off his coffee, started a union, and scored the last six Portland points. When he hit the deck after being fouled, the other Portland players couldn't get there to pick him back up fast enough. Respect. 91-87 Blazers.
3:40 - Dwight Howard is making his free throws in the clutch and life as I know it has ceased to exist. 91-91 Tie.
2:29 - It wouldn't be a game in this series if it weren't going down to the wire. Dwight Howard is putting his stamp all over this game, completely owning the Blazers down low. But hey, at least he finally missed a pair of free throws! 93-92 Rockets.
1:47 - Dwight. Again. After the Blazers did an amazing job on defense, Dwight Howard lucked into a loose ball that Robin Lopez couldn't corral. Three-point play, the incredibly hard way. 96-94 Rockets.
1:06 - Two more misses for Dwight at the line! But the Blazers can't score, with LaMarcus Aldridge missing an open twenty-foot jumper. Portland needs another stop! 96-94 Rockets.
0:48 - That'll do. Jeremy Lin sunk an open three-pointer, but it was waived off as the only reason he was able to spring free was due to an Omer Asik offensive foul. That's Asik's sixth. He's walking off the court like a sad, unadopted puppy dog that's about to be put down. Portland needs to get the ball into Dame's hands here. 96-94 Rockets.
0:39 - Batum got Howard on a switch after a pick and roll with Aldridge. He hit him with a crossover, drove baseline, and pulled up fadeaway twelve-foot jumper. Money. 96-96 Tie.
0:28 - Portland gets a stop! But the call on the floor is out of bounds to Houston! Dame was out of bounds and hadn't established position in bounds yet as he received a pass from Robin Lopez. The crowd is losing it (seriously, it's so loud—it was just 120db in here), but that was the right call. Portland needs one more stope! 96-96 Tie.
0:00.9 - Well, Portland got their stop. Unfortunately, as the rebound bounced around and out of Lopez's hand, Chandler Parsons swooped in and was able to lay it up for the lead. The Blazers have .09 of a second. It's time for a miracle. 98-96 Rockets.
0:00 - DAME THREE! HOLY SHIT! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!H!H! It is absolute chaos is here and I don't ever want to leave. 99-98 Blazers.
FINAL: 99-98 Blazers. Portland advances to the second round. Dame struts around the arena, screaming that this is "his motherfucking house, his motherfucking city." Nobody is leaving. The crowd is all standing, all cheering, all losing their minds. Dame. That is going to go down as one of the greatest shots in Blazers' history. Seriously, the buzzer sounded over five minutes ago and not a single person has left. Dame just got on the mic and yelled out "Rip City" at the top of his lungs. Every time they show the replay the crowd gets just as amped all over again. Excuse the radio silence, but I am going to sit back and enjoy this one. History, folks.