James Harden scored 37 points, Dwight Howard added 24 points and 14 rebounds and the Houston Rockets outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers, 121-116, in overtime at the Moda Center Friday night, taking Game 3 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
The Blazers lead the series, 2-1.
No one said this series was going to be easy. Trail Blazers drop a tough on in OT to the Rockets, 121-116.— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 26, 2014
The Rockets got off to a quick start in this one, leading by as many as 12 points in the second quarter. However, Portland went on a 16-0 run in the period, and at halftime, the Blazers led 55-54.
The teams went blow for blow in the second half, with Houston eventually gaining a 94-83 edge early in the fourth quarter. The Blazers would rally, though, outscoring the Rockets 27-16 for the rest of the quarter and sending the game into overtime.
Portland went up 116-112 with 3:08 to go, but it failed to score for the remainder of the extra session. Houston closed on a 9-0 run, the biggest blow coming from rookie guard Troy Daniels, who drained a three-pointer with 11 seconds left to put the Rockets up 119-116.
McHale on Daniels: "I said "Young fella go out there and fight your butt off.' He’s not afraid to shoot it. He knows he can shoot it.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 26, 2014
"You live with [Troy Daniels] shooting that shot over James Harden." Damian Lillard— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 26, 2014
Nicolas Batum misfired on a triple that would have tied the game on the final Blazers possession.
Terry Stotts: "We're evenly matched, similar in styles. These are games we have to expect. Bounce of ball here & there makes difference."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) April 26, 2014
Game 4 is Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Key Player Grades: Houston Rockets
Dwight Howard, Center
Howard continued to be Houston's best player in the series by a country mile Friday night.
The behemoth posted 24 points and 14 rebounds (six offensive), throwing down several thunderous alley-oop dunks and using his bulk to overpower Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge in the post on numerous occasions.
Not only that, but Howard was also solid from the free-throw line, making good on four of his six attempts from the charity stripe.
Dwight shot 10-of-16 from the floor, throwing in a couple of blocks for good measure.
James Harden, Shooting Guard
For the first time in this series, Harden got off to a good start in Game 3, scoring 11 points in the first quarter.
Harden then endured a stretch where he missed six straight shots, going scoreless in the second quarter, only to answer with another 11 points in the third and another 11 in the fourth.
Don't be fooled by the scoring output, though (37 points). Harden had another miserable outing shooting the basketball.
The 2-guard went an abysmal 13-of-35 from the floor, going 3-of-11 from downtown. That's 37.1 percent from the field overall and 27.3 percent from long range.
Harden added nine rebounds and six assists, but you just cannot ignore how terrible he was in terms of putting the rock in the hoop Saturday night.
Fortunately for Harden, Houston was able to get the win, but he absolutely needs to start being more efficient if the Rockets want to win this series.
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward
Chandler Parsons is that guy on the Rockets who seems like he is invisible throughout most of the game, but then you take a look at the box score and see that he actually made an impact. He also does plenty of things that don't show up on the stat sheet, too.
All things considered, Parsons was far from spectacular in Game 3 and ended up fouling out in overtime.
The wing scored 15 points off 5-of-12 shooting, making all four of his free throws. He wasn't all that effective from beyond the arc, however, going only 1-of-4 from distance.
Parsons added four rebounds.
Omer Asik, Power Forward
With head coach Kevin McHale searching for answers on how to stop Aldridge, Omer Asik got the start in Game 3. He answered with a fine performance.
Asik played tough defense on Aldridge throughout, putting a body on him out on the perimeter and getting a hand in his face every time he rose up to attempt a shot. Aldridge made a few because, you know, he's really good, but Asik did an outstanding job of making it difficult on the star big man.
Omer also put in some work offensively, scoring seven points and hauling in five offensive rebounds (he grabbed eight boards in total).
Asik did miss a couple of easy shots at the rim, so his 3-for-7 clip wasn't pretty, but he undoubtedly impacted the game in other positive ways.
Patrick Beverley, Point Guard
Patrick Beverley got off to a phenomenal start in this game, draining three triples right out of the gate in the first quarter.
He would continue to be an offensive force for the rest of the game, hitting another three-pointer and scoring on floaters to register 16 points.
Beverley was also effective on the glass, pulling down nine rebounds (four offensive) despite being one of the smallest players on either team.
Beverley shot 6-of-15 from the floor, burying four of his six long-distance attempts.
Solid outing from Pat.
Jeremy Lin, Sixth Man
Jeremy Lin wasn't bad in Game 3, but that fast-break layup he missed with under a minute to go in regulation that would have put Houston up by five was just awful.
Because of that miss, it's kind of hard to look at everything else Lin did and say he had a solid outing, but games aren't decided on one shot, so let's examine his entire effort.
Lin scored 13 points, going a solid 5-of-11 from the floor. He also handed out six assists.
However, Lin posted a minus-10 plus-minus, the worst on the Rockets.
Lin's inconsistent Game 3 stat sheet and performance is just as perplexing as his career.
How about Daniels?
A rookie guard who played in just five games all season, Daniels buried what would end up being the game-winning three-pointer with 11 seconds left in overtime, putting the Rockets up 119-116.
Troy Daniels will go from undrafted, to the D-League to the podium after saving the Rockets season.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 26, 2014
Troy Daniels hit 240 3-pointers with the Vipers this season. Previous franchise record was 152 -- for the team!— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 26, 2014
He hit three triples overall during the game, going 3-of-6 from distance. All nine of his points came from beyond the arc.
Also, with Asik being inserted into the starting lineup, Terrence Jones wasn't able to see that much burn in this one. The second-year forward, who had a fantastic season, played only 13 minutes, missing all three of his shot attempts. Portland's frontcourt is just a tough matchup for the youngster.
That was the extent of playing time given to the Rockets reserves.
Still, thanks to Daniels' heroics and incredible poise under pressure, the bench earns a solid mark.
Key Player Grades: Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward
There was no 40-point performance by Aldridge in Game 3, but the dominant big man certainly left his fingerprints on the contest.
Aldridge particularly made his mark in the third quarter, scoring 10 points and making several difficult shots over the length of Asik. He was making his trademark jumpers on the left block, keeping his ballclub in the game.
Aldridge ended with 23 points off 8-of-22 shooting, and 19 of those points coming in the second half and overtime. He also hauled in 10 rebounds and blocked three shots.
This certainly wasn't one of LaMarcus' better or more efficient outings, but it was still decent.
Damian Lillard, Point Guard
Damian Lillard had a monster first half, going for 16 points off 5-of-9 shooting and keying a 16-0 Blazers run in the second quarter that erased a 12-point deficit. Lillard scored 12 points in that quarter, knocking down transition threes and putting the Rockets defense back on its heels.
Lillard then made some big plays in the fourth quarter, including an incredible circus shot that resulted in a three-point play. Later on, he drove the lane and finished to put the Blazers up by one with 1:59 remaining. Lillard would end up scoring nine points in the fourth and two more in overtime.
The 2012-13 Rookie of the Year was efficient, going 9-of-16 from the floor for 30 points, connecting on four of his eight attempts from deep. He also went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Lillard added six assists and six rebounds to his totals.
Awesome outing from Lillard, a youngster who has barely scratched the surface of his potential.
Nicolas Batum, Small Forward
Batum is one of the league's most versatile players, and he demonstrated that in Game 3.
The Frenchman filled up the box score with 26 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, and his length clearly gave Parsons some trouble.
Batum shot 9-of-20 from the floor, drilling four of his nine three-point tries. He missed what would have been the game-tying three at the end of overtime, but that doesn't take away from what was an outstanding all-around effort.
Batum also played a team-high 49 minutes.
Wesley Matthews, Shooting Guard
For the second straight contest, Wesley Matthews was very quiet offensively, posting only five points off 2-of-7 shooting and fouling out in overtime.
In Matthews' defense, he has been expending the good majority of his energy defending Harden, so he is not even necessarily focused on putting the ball in the hoop; he's just focused on stopping Harden from doing so.
He continued to make life difficult for Harden in Game 3, and for that, he deserves some props.
Still, Matthews averaged over 16 points per game during the regular season, so when he isn't giving the Blazers anything offensively, it becomes much harder for them to win. Case in point: Game 3.
Robin Lopez, Center
Lopez was very effective in his 26 minutes of action in Game 3.
The big man posted 11 points and eight rebounds, six of those coming on the offensive end. He also blocked three shots and altered countless others, making putback attempts by Asik difficult and serving as a deterrent to Harden whenever he attempted to drive to the rim.
Lopez went 5-of-10 from the floor.
It's truly amazing how much his game has improved.
Mo Williams, Sixth Man
Mo Williams made some big plays for the Blazers, scoring 17 points in 36 minutes. He shot 6-of-10 from the floor and also contributed four rebounds and four assists.
Being that Williams is really the only reliable scorer off Portland's pine, his contributions are always important, and he played a pivotal role in getting the Blazers back in the game late. Eleven of his 17 points came in the fourth quarter, as his veteran savvy showed down the stretch.
Williams also ended up posting a plus-four.
The Blazers have the lowest-scoring bench in the league, so anything they can get from their reserves is gravy.
Unfortunately, they didn't get much from them Friday night. Not in terms of offense, anyway.
Dorell Wright did bring some energy, grabbing six rebounds and serving as a presence on the defensive end with three blocks, but he scored only two points off 1-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes.
Thomas Robinson played only four minutes, registering two points on one shot.
We shouldn't be surprised that Portland got so little production from its pine, but just because we may have expected it doesn't save the reserves from receiving a low grade.
Wright's defense keeps the bench from failing.