What a game in Houston! The 5th seeded Portland Trailblazers have taken Game 1 over the 4th seeded Houston Rockets in an overtime thriller that ended with Damian Lillard doing Damian Lillard things. Of course, none of that would have been possible without LaMarcus Aldridge and his absolutely dominating 46 points and 18 rebounds.
A very physical match up from the beginning, Houston had taken the lead through most of the game, and had an 86-73 lead down the stretch before Trailblazers coach Terry Stotts called for his team to employ the Hack-a-Howard strategy; it worked, as the Blazers climbed back into it with a 10-0 run and tie the game at 98. After an tough 3-pointer by Lillard tied the score up at 104 with under a minute to go, James Harden put the Rockets up by two with two big free throws. The lead was short lived, as Aldridge tipped in a missed shot with 2.9 seconds to go to tie the score at 106. Houston had a chance to win it in regulation, but Harden's shot was off.
Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard quickly made back-to-back three point plays, but that lead was quickly erased by a pair of threes from Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. Robin Lopez fouled out shortly after he made it a 116-114 game with a put back dunk. Aldridge also fouled with with 1:04 left to play on overtime by setting an ill-advised moving screen on Patrick Beverly, who hurt his knee on the play.
After a three point play from Lillard that gave the Trailblazers the lead, Francisco Garcia and Howard both made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Rockets a one point lead, 120-119. Joel Freeland then made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Blazers a two point lead. Houston had one more chance, but Harden clanked a shot off of the rim and the Blazers stole Game with a final score of 122-120. Aldridge finished with 46 points, 18 rebounds and Lillard chipped in with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists of his own, having a great game, his first NBA playoff game. Both teams combined for 79 free throws.
Game 2 will be on Wednesday night in Houston.