Houston vs. Portland: How Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard Led Blazers to Big Win

Alex Tam@alexctamCorrespondent IIINovember 17, 2012

Damian Lillard scored a career-high 27 points in Friday's win over Houston.
Damian Lillard scored a career-high 27 points in Friday's win over Houston.Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Portland Trail Blazers won their second in a row with a thrilling 119-117 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night at the Rose Garden.

The Blazers (4-5) received career-high performances from rookie point guard Damian Lillard and forward Nicolas Batum. Portland's starters combined to score 109 of the team's 119 points, continuing a theme of the starting lineup needing to score big to win.

It marked the first time the Blazers had three players score at least 27 points in the same game in 15 years. The last time was Nov. 14, 1997, when Isaiah Rider scored 35 points, Brian Grant scored 34 and Arvydas Sabonis scored 31 in a 140-139 double-overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns (via Trail Blazers PR on Twitter).

Batum (35), LaMarcus Aldridge (29) and Lillard (27) were the team's leading scorers.

Here are the grades, analysis and breakdown of the Blazers' victory.


Co-Players of the Game.

Lillard: 27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists; Batum: 35 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 assists

Usually this space is reserved for just one player, but the combination of Lillard and Batum was spectacular against the Rockets.

Batum, who continues to justify his contract, tied his career high with 35 points and added five blocks. The other players who have achieved that feat since 2007 are Aldridge, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant (via Trail Blazers PR on Twitter).

Lillard gave a Brandon Roy-esque performance down the stretch, carrying the Blazers late in the fourth quarter and in overtime.


Key Moment of the Game

Houston took a three-point lead to begin the overtime session off James Harden's three-point play.

The Rockets would not make another field goal over the final three minutes, 44 seconds. Lillard took over, nailing a three-pointer and a 23-foot jumper to tie the game, 116-116.

Aldridge then closed the game out with a free throw and a jumper with 36 seconds left to seal the win.


Lillard Watch

At one stretch during the fourth quarter and overtime, Lillard scored 14 of the Blazers' 16 points.

Houston led by as many as seven points late in the fourth, but Lillard was tremendous and gave Portland a chance to cap an impressive comeback win in regulation.

The 27 points were a career high. He became the first player with at least 20 points in six of his first nine career games since Allen Iverson in 1996 (via Trail Blazers PR on Twitter).

The performance certainly cements Lillard as the leader in the Rookie of the Year race right now.


Tweets of the Night

That was fun. , and I'm exhausted lol

— Wesley Matthews (@wessywes2) November 16, 2012


Great team win!


Great game, great win, great Rose Garden, great night...be careful tonight, have a good night!

— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) November 16, 2012


What They Said

“That team made hard shots,” Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We always want to say, ‘What’s wrong, what happened?’ Batum was making shots with us in his grill. Other than foul him, I don’t know what else we could have done there. We were actually getting clean looks. They were getting hard looks.” (via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle)

"He played great," Aldridge said of Lillard, the 6-foot-3 point guard who was the sixth overall pick in this year's draft out of Weber State. "He had ice in his veins. Took big shots, made big shots." (via ESPN.com)

“It was a hell of a game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We tried to make it interesting. But I think the one thing that’s kind of been evident with our team this year is that we compete until the end. For a long stretch of the game, it wasn’t the way we wanted it. But when it mattered, we played pretty well." (via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian)


Final Grade: A-

What a game.

The Blazers will just have to face the fact that their bench will not produce much offensively. The starters, however, are carrying their weight.

The Rockets had more rebounds, assists, steals, fast-break points and points in the paint, but Portland hung in there and somehow pulled out the victory.

This will be the kind of season we can expect from the Blazers—truly exciting wins that make you salivate over their future, while other nights, they might lay an egg.

But, definitely, this is a win to cherish and celebrate for one night.


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