Portland vs. Houston: How Damian Lillard, Blazers Pulled out a Big Road Win
The Portland Trail Blazers earned their first road victory with a 95-85 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.
Houston has traditionally been a house of horrors for the Trail Blazers (2-1), but tonight was a different story. Behind a second-half turnaround by Nicolas Batum and several clutch plays by Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Portland is surprisingly above .500 in a stretch that included games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here are the awards, grades and analysis of the Blazers' win.
Player of the game
Damian Lillard: 20 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 8-15 FG
There aren't anymore words to describe how much Lillard has done for this Blazers team in the early going. He is making Blazer fans somewhat forget the loss of Brandon Roy and is becoming a rising star in the NBA.
Lillard scored eight of his 20 points in the overtime period to close out a hot Rockets team that featured a nearly unstoppable James Harden.
Key Moment of the Game
With the Blazers trailing by three points near the end of regulation, Matthews came up with a clutch three-pointer to tie the game, 81-81, with 59 seconds left.
Harden had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds, but Matthews came through once again by stripping the ball away as time expired.
Portland had the momentum going into overtime and capitalized.
What's not been said about Lillard already? The guy is playing like an absolute stud.
He became the second player in NBA history to score at least 20 points and dish at least seven assists in the first three games of their career, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian).
In his young career, Lillard is averaging 22 points, nine assists and three rebounds as a rookie point guard. He continues to make his case as the front-runner in the Rookie of the Year race with Anthony Davis.
Tweet of the Night
Have to give my bro @wessywes2 props for the stop he had at the end of the game. RESPECT
— LaMarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) November 3, 2012
What They Said
"Harden entered the game as the NBA's biggest story, having averaged 41 points in his first two games since the stunning trade that sent him from the Thunder to the Rockets (2-1). But Matthews was attached to his hip on defense all night, making him work to get open, forcing him into contested shots and generally being a pest." (via Freeman of The Oregonian)
“It was good defense,” Harden said. “I lost the ball. That’s the last shot. I made sure there was no time left on the clock for them to get an opportunity to score.” (via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle)
"He made big shots for us, and that's what we need from him," Aldridge said of [Lillard] (via ESPN.com)
Final Grade: B+
The Blazers' resiliency was again on display against another quality team.
Portland came up with clutch play after clutch play behind Aldridge, Lillard, Matthews and Batum.
The one troubling aspect, however, continues to be their bench. The reserves took just 10 field-goal attempts scattered among seven players for five points.
How much longer can Portland continue to rely on its starters for quality minutes and scoring? It hasn't been an issue so far, but it may be one later as the season progresses.
What are your thoughts on the Blazers' victory?
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