LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points, and three other Portland Trail Blazers players scored over 20 in a 123-120 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets at the Moda Center Sunday night, as the Blazers took a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
In what has become a regular occurrence in this series, Portland had to make a comeback in the fourth quarter. Trailing 92-84 with eight minutes and 30 seconds to go, the Blazers went on an 18-5 run to take a 102-97 lead. The Rockets would battle back, regaining the lead on two James Harden free throws with 50 seconds left.
Eventually, the two ballclubs proceeded to go to overtime, where Portland outscored Houston 17-14 to secure the win.
Terry Stotts: "We're at our best when our backs are against the wall, have something to prove -- whatever phrase you want to use."— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) April 28, 2014
It was the first victory by a home team in this series and the third overtime game.
I mean, what else did you really expect?— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) April 28, 2014
Nicolas Batum was the second-leading scorer for the Blazers with 25, and Harden led the Rockets with 28.
Portland shot 49.5 percent from the floor, barely besting the 48.8 percent clip by Houston.
To further show how evenly matched these two squads are, both went 11-of-28 from behind the three-point line in Game 4, and both scored 44 points in the paint.
Blazers 123, Rockets 120. Blazers up 3-1. And if not clear enough by now in an amazing series, a whole lot of everything can still happen.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 28, 2014
Game 5 is back in Houston on Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey hopes the home fans will push the team to a win.
Four straight coin flips. 3 tails 1 head. Blazers have played amazing so far. Rockets fans will carry us to victory in game 5 Wed— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) April 28, 2014
It should be fun.
Key Player Grades
Dwight Howard, Center
Dwight Howard continued to look for his offense in Game 4, particularly late in the game, by trying to go to work in the post. He went 7-of-14 from the floor, and his dunk with 3.6 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime.
Howard scored 25 points, going 11-of-17 from the free-throw line, which is actually very solid for him. He also hauled in 14 rebounds and made two huge blocks toward the end of the fourth quarter.
His overall presence defensively was great, as always.
Howard continues to be the Rockets' best player in this series. Too bad his teammates aren't following suit.
James Harden, Shooting Guard
This was James Harden's best performance of the series in terms of efficiency, but the 2-guard still didn't shoot the ball all that well in Game 4.
Harden went 9-of-21 from the floor, hitting on only three of his 11 three-point tries. He scored 28 points, going 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.
The biggest issue was that Harden went only 5-of-14 in the second half. He also committed five turnovers overall.
Harden added six assists and four rebounds, but he still is yet to enjoy a truly great contest in these playoffs.
Chandler Parsons, Small Forward
Chandler Parsons got off to a very quick start, poised to make up for his poor offensive showings in Games 2 and 3.
He was clearly looking for his offense early on, taking seven shots in the first quarter. He made five, going for 12 points over the first 12 minutes.
Parsons didn't slow down, either.
The wing ended up scoring 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, making four of his five shots from deep. He also grabbed eight rebounds.
However, he was invisible down the stretch, failing to score a point in either the fourth quarter or overtime. That prevents him from getting a full A.
Otherwise, this was a very good performance by Parsons.
Omer Asik, Power Forward
It's a good thing the Rockets didn't trade Omer Asik earlier in the year, because his presence has certainly helped them.
Asik registered six points and eight rebounds in Game 4, going 3-of-5 from the floor. He did miss a wide-open layup in the first half, but other than that blemish, the rest of his night was pretty impressive. He battled on the glass all game and served as a solid rim-protector.
Asik did get into some foul trouble, though, committing five fouls in his 33 minutes.
Patrick Beverley, Point Guard
Patrick Beverley was very quiet offensively in this one.
The floor general scored six points off 2-of-7 shooting, going 0-of-4 from distance and dishing out only one assist.
Beverley did, however, play very good defense on Damian Lillard for a good portion of the contest, making it difficult for him to get clean looks.
Still, his defense wasn't enough to make up for a no-show on offense, and he committed a turnover that sealed the game for the Blazers in overtime.
Jeremy Lin, Sixth Man
The struggles continue for Jeremy Lin.
Lin went only 1-of-6 from the floor in Game 4, continuing to miss layups and shots around the basket. He also missed badly on his two long-distance attempts.
On top of that, he committed a costly turnover with under 30 seconds left, leading to a go-ahead three-pointer by Mo Williams.
Lin tallied four points, five rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.
After hitting the game-winning three-pointer in Game 3, Troy Daniels came through with a fine encore in Game 4, draining four triples in 21 minutes of action. He finished with 17 points (eight coming in the fourth quarter and overtime) off 5-of-7 shooting to add another chapter to his great story.
Terrence Jones showed up off the bench in a big way after a lackluster Game 3, going for eight points and six boards in 19 minutes. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive end, and he went 3-of-6 from the floor.
Both Daniels and Jones gave Houston a great lift off the pine.
Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward
LaMarcus Aldridge has been getting his no matter what in this series.
The big man scored 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting despite being blanketed for most of the night, knocking down numerous mid-range jumpers despite Howard and Asik putting their hands in his face.
Aldridge was particularly effective in the third quarter, where he scored 13 points and burned the Rockets with 17-footers.
He was able to be effective offensively despite battling with Howard on the the other end, which is a testament to Aldridge's endurance.
Aldridge added 10 rebounds and four blocks to go along with his scoring output.
Damian Lillard, Point Guard
This wasn't a typical Damian Lillard performance.
The All-Star was able to light it up from downtown, going 5-of-7 from distance, but he only went 1-of-6 inside the arc. He was able to get to the charity stripe for seven free throws, making six, but the dribble penetration just wasn't there Sunday night.
Lillard scored 23 points off 6-of-13 shooting, handing out eight dimes. He only turned the ball over twice, though, so that's good.
This certainly wasn't a bad game for Lillard by any means, but we've seen better out of the youngster.
Nicolas Batum, Small Forward
Yet another awesome all-around performance for Nicolas Batum.
The Frenchman posted a gaudy stat line of 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, going 11-of-23 from the floor. He went 2-of-7 from three-point range, but one of those triples was a big one in overtime.
Thirteen of Batum's points came during the fourth quarter and the extra session, so he clearly came up big when it counted for Portland.
You have to love this kid's skills.
Wesley Matthews, Shooting Guard
Wesley Matthews was invisible offensively in Game 3. That wasn't the case in Game 4.
Matthews scored 21 points off 8-of-15 shooting, making some tough shots and nailing a couple of three-pointers.
Matthews also made Harden work for everything he got, and even if Harden was much more efficient in this one than he had been the rest of the series, Matthews' defensive effort was still admirable.
Perhaps the highlight of the game was when Matthews dove on the floor and wrestled the basketball away from Howard during overtime.
Stotts on Matthews: "He came out determined and made plays on both ends. That’s what Wes does. He has a big heart."— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) April 28, 2014
He contributed four rebounds, four steals and three assists as well.
To top everything off, Matthews stole the ball from Beverley with seven seconds remaining in the extra session to seal the win.
Terrific bounce-back outing by Matthews. Gutsy, gutsy, gutsy.
Robin Lopez, Center
Robin Lopez fouled out in 32 minutes Sunday night, but not before making a significant impact on the game.
Lopez contributed six points and 11 rebounds to the Blazers' cause and also made life incredibly difficult for Howard down low despite giving up a considerable amount of strength to the Houston big man.
Lopez made all three of his shot attempts, and three of his 11 boards came on the offensive glass.
Nice effort by the big fella.
Mo Williams, Sixth Man
Mo Williams wasn't all that effective for most of his 24 minutes in Game 4.
Key word: most.
He made only three of his 11 shot attempts, misfiring on all but one of his six three-point tries...but that one he connected on put Portland up by one with 18.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Williams recorded nine points, three rebounds and three assists.
While he was off for most of the night, he hit what may have been the biggest shot of the series, and for that, he deserves props. Well, enough props to keep him from earning a D.
Thomas Robinson provided a ton of energy off the bench in the third quarter, getting up for rebounds (three) and blocking an alley-oop dunk attempt by Howard. He also had a nice putback off an offensive board, going over the top of Jones to grab the rebound.
Dorell Wright was also effective in his 18 minutes, going for eight points and four boards. He only made one shot, but he went 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Joel Freeland also saw some burn, but didn't make an impact at all.