Blazers-Rockets: Brandon Roy and Co. Stay Alive with Big Win Over Houston

Nick PoustCorrespondent IIApril 29, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 28:  Aaron Brooks #0 of the Houston Rockets is called for a charging foul against Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers during Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the NBA Playoffs on April 28, 2009 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy was sick, admitting after Game Five against the Houston Rockets that he “felt lousy” during the pregame shoot-around and throughout the contest. The IV he received must have helped, considering how well he performed in a must-win game for the Blazers.

With the shot clock winding down on a broken play, Roy had the ball at the top of the key guarded by Shane Battier. Battier was all over Roy, but the two-time All Star—and Portland’s leader—drained a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer and was hit on his way down.

Head coach Nate McMillan was up in arms about the no-call. This wouldn’t be the first time, as the refs were once again blatantly biased toward the Rockets.

They could have swallowed their whistles, but they still wouldn’t have kept Roy’s shot from swishing through, the Rose Garden fans from rising, or the Blazers from winning.

Portland got off to a blistering start on the back of power-forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Capping an 11-2 spurt in the first quarter with a mid-range jumper, he put the Blazers ahead by 10.

Houston climbed back in the game, but Aldridge kept them at bay best he could, hitting another jumper. In transition, he dunked off a nice pass from Sergio Rodriguez. His four consecutive points to start the second quarter were huge. Roy would eventually contribute, but for Aldridge to carry the load early made all the difference.

The Blazers next went into a rut offensively, only able to score on a Roy layup over a four-minute span midway through the period.

Aldridge noticed the shift in momentum, so after a steal by Roy, he drove the ball right at Rockets center Yao Ming.

Ming nailed Aldridge right across the face.

It was one of the few fouls that has actually been called on the 7'6" center in the series. A sarcastic cheer from the crowd swept through the arena as Aldridge stepped to the free throw line. He made one of two attempts, but he sent a message.

The Blazers weren’t afraid of Ming.

Portland increased their lead to 10 again, this time with a small 8-4 run. Roy closed out the half on a sound note, making a driving layup at the buzzer. Still, the Blazers would have to overcome the referees and stay poised.

The differences in fouls called against the two teams was amazing.

Portland center Greg Oden tried to body Ming in the post. Ming leveled Oden right in the mid-section, trying to clear space. An offensive foul was clearly committed by Ming, but the foul was called on Oden by a referee behind the play. Another foul was called on Oden once Rockets guard Kyle Lowry drove out of control into the lane, took the contact he initiated, and fell to the floor as if he’d been shot.

Even with an unfairly called game, the Blazers contained their emotions, and left the referee-bashing to the announcers.

Their lead was still intact, but, feeling that the discrepancy could cost Portland the game, announcers Mike Barrett and Mike Rice voiced their frustration. An exasperated “Unbelievable” was used repeatedly by Barrett, while Rice chimed in with the occasional “Oh!”

Benefiting from illegal tactics and the blindness of Bill Spooner, Leon Wood, and Dan Crawford, Houston stayed within reach throughout the third quarter. The Rockets used a 15-4 run during the latter portion of the period to tie the game at 60.

Their toughness and size overwhelmed the Blazers throughout their run, but the youngest team in the NBA wouldn’t fold, making adjustments accordingly.

Aldridge gave Portland momentum heading into the final quarter with a mid-range jumper, but it didn’t carry over. Houston scored the first six points, and were helped out by the aforementioned atrocity of the offensive foul called on Lowry’s drive into Oden.

The game changed, as it often does, when Roy entered the game. The deficit the Blazers faced didn’t last long, as Roy took over and the Rockets went cold.

He quickly scored four consecutive points, tying the game. Then, Steve Blake’s free throw gave Portland a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Oden followed with two of his own, giving Lowry a taste of his own medicine by bowling him over.

Oden proceeded to block Von Wafer’s layup, leading to a fastbreak opportunity for Travis Outlaw. Outlaw challenged Ming, but his shot bounced high off the rim. Ming, instead of grabbing the rebound, tipped the ball back out.

It fell into Roy’s hands.

He made sure his team wouldn’t let the opportunity slip, and found Outlaw, who had raced straight to the left corner after his layup went astray. Outlaw, without any hesitation, swished the three-pointer, then exuded a rush of emotion—something previously unseen from the sixth-year player. On his way back down the court, he pumped his fists and let out a yell of jubilation.

While the Rockets continued to miss, Roy continued his hot streak, hitting two jumpers, including a three-pointer over Battier.

Roy's illness had evidently disappeared, and it was not about to let his inexperienced team’s season end.

For good measure, with 20 seconds remaining, Roy capped of the triumphant evening by squaring up a seldom-used Houston reserve, and drained his patented 18-footer for his 25th point. The crowd went wild, and so did the announcers.

The Blazers had grown up a little more.

After the game, Roy recalled what he said to his teammates before the 13-0 run that lasted nearly five minutes of the fourth quarter.

“'It’s now or never.'

"And I decided I was going to do whatever I can to get this win. I was like ‘Let’s go do it.’"


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