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           === Blazers beat Rockets in OT to grab 3-1 series lead ===
 Portland, OR ( - Wesley Matthews wrestled the ball away from
 Dwight Howard to start overtime and stripped the ball from Patrick Beverley to
 end it.
 The  Portland Trail  Blazers guard didn't hit his team's biggest shots, but he
 may have made the two biggest plays.
 And in a series this close, where overtime wins outnumber regulation wins by a
 3-to-1 margin, sometimes the little things aren't so little.
 Nicolas  Batum scored  five of his 25  points in overtime and the Blazers beat
 the  Houston Rockets  123-120 on Sunday in Game 4 of their first-round Western
 Conference playoff series.
 The  Blazers took  a 3-1 lead in  the best-of-seven set heading into Game 5 on
 Wednesday in Houston.
 Howard's  dunk with  3.6 seconds remaining in a thrill-a-minute fourth quarter
 tied the game for Houston, but he lost a wrestling match with Matthews for the
 ball on the first possession of overtime.
 Matthews  called a  timeout, Chandler Parsons hit LaMarcus Aldridge across the
 face  at the other end for a Flagrant 1 foul and Aldridge made his free throws
 for the first points of overtime.
 Still,  the game was  tied until Batum scored five straight to spark a 7-0 run
 that  gave the  Blazers the lead for  good. He made a 3-pointer after Aldridge
 stripped  Howard under  the  Rockets'  basket, then  found  Damian Lillard  in
 transition for a layup and 117-110 lead with 2:19 to play.
 Troy  Daniels, the  former D-League player and unexpected hero for the Rockets
 in  Game 3 when  he hit the winning 3 in the closing seconds of overtime, made
 his  first  three NBA foul shots  to get them  within a point with 8.9 seconds
 After  Mo Williams made  two free throws at the other end, Matthews stepped in
 front of Beverley just beyond midcourt and knocked the ball loose, sealing the
 win -- Portland's second in overtime in the series.
 "It's  not exhausting  if you win, it's exhausting if you lose," Rockets coach
 Kevin  McHale said of the series' three overtime games. "And we've lost two of
 the three."
 Aldridge  scored  a game-high 29  points for the fifth-seeded Blazers, Lillard
 had 23 and Matthews added 21.
 James  Harden had 28 points to lead the Rockets, Parsons scored 26 -- but just
 seven after halftime -- and Howard ended with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
 Portland  took its first  lead since 6-5 when Batum spun Parsons around with a
 crossover  dribble  and knocked down  a 3-pointer from  the high right side to
 make it 99-97 with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
 Later,  Howard's only two blocks of the game came before Harden made four foul
 shots in a row to give Houston a 104-102 edge with 50.9 seconds on the clock.
 Then, chaos.
 After  Batum missed a 3, Jeremy Lin rebounded the ball for the Rockets but was
 stripped by Williams. Matthews missed a layup, but Lillard got the rebound and
 kicked  it to Williams, who knocked down a 3 to give Portland a one-point lead
 with 18.9 seconds left in the fourth.
 Howard's game-tying dunk came after Dorell Wright missed one of two foul shots
 for the Blazers, and Williams missed a 3-point try at the buzzer for Portland.
 Earlier,  Aldridge scored  13 in the third quarter but Lillard hit the biggest
 shot  for Portland -- a fallaway 3 near the left corner at the buzzer that got
 the Trail Blazers within 84-79 going into the fourth.
 The Rockets were up 29-23 going into the second and 61-51 at halftime.
                                   Game Notes
 Daniels  scored 17 ... Lin took five steps without a dribble after receiving a
 pass  from Harden  behind the 3-point line  in the second quarter and missed a
 layup  after Wright got  a piece of it. Traveling was not called ... Houston's
 Terrence  Jones and  Williams  came together  late in  the  third quarter  and
 received double technical fouls.
 04/28 01:57:38 ET

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