The Trail Blazers trailed the Houston Rockets at halftime by ten points, 61-51, in game four of the first round playoff series. While the majority of the blame for the bad first half performance falls solely in the lap of the Trail Blazers players, a portion remains firmly in the hands of the referees in charge. Late in the second quarter, the officials ignored a blatant offensive foul committed by Houston's James Harden, and then called a technical foul on Portland's Wes Matthews.
With about thirty seconds remaining in the first half and the Blazers trailing by seven, James Harden dribbled near the top of the three-point line with his left hand, but he wrapped his right arm around Matthews and proceeded to throw Matthews onto the Moda Center floor.
After he turned Matthews into a projectile body, Harden calmly set his feet and drained a three-point field goal to give Houston a 10 point lead (58-48). With seemingly every soul in the Moda Center screaming bloody mary at the officials, Matthews gave the referees a few animated words of his own, which lead to a technical foul and an 11-point Houston lead.
Matthews made up for understandable technical by hitting a three-pointer of his own on Portland's ensuing possession, but the referees again showed their disdain for all things Rip City when they called a shooting foul against LaMarcus Aldridge when Houston's Patrick Beverley drove down the right lane. It was indeed a foul, and was intentionally committed by Aldridge only because the Trail Blazers had a foul to give. Naturally, though, the referees decided to award Beverley with two free throws despite the fact that he had been in the act of dribbling, not shooting, when the foul was committed.
Beverley made both free throws, and the Rockets finished the first half with a 10-point advantage. Had the officials called the last 30 seconds of the half correctly, things would have gone quite differently, and the Trail Blazers could have reasonably cut the lead to five or less.
But alas, NBA referees have an uncanny run of bad calls against Rip City whenever the playoffs come around.