Blazers try to close out Rockets in Houston
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to win a playoff series for the first time since 2000 on Wednesday night when they visit the Houston Rockets for Game 5 at the Toyota Center.
Portland won Game 4 Sunday night at the Moda Center and are now up 3-1.
The last time the Blazers won a playoff series came in the 2000 Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz. They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in the Conference Finals, but since, Portland has lost six times in the first round.
That could all change on Wednesday.
The Trail Blazers won the first two games in Houston, then fell in Game 3 at home. Portland is on the precipice of advancement, but it's been a tough trek to get to this point.
Three of the first four game went to overtime, including Game 4, which the Blazers won 123-120.
"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."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a game-high 29 points for the fifth-seeded Blazers, followed by 25 from Nicolas Batum. Damian Lillard had 23 and Wesley Matthews added 21.
James Harden had 28 points to lead the Rockets, Chandler Parsons scored 26 -- but just seven after halftime -- and Dwight 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.
After Batum missed a 3, Jeremy Lin rebounded the ball for the Rockets but was stripped by Mo 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.
Matthews opened overtime by wrestling the ball away from Howard and called a timeout, Parsons smacked 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 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 left.
After Williams made two free throws at the other end, Matthews stepped in front of Patrick Beverley just beyond midcourt and knocked the ball loose, sealing the win -- Portland's second in overtime in the series.
"It was another terrific game and I think it's obvious that both teams are pretty evenly matched," said Portland coach Terry Stotts. "I was really proud of the way we played in the second half. I thought we showed a lot of heart and determination to get back into the game."
If needed, Game 6 will be Friday night in Portland.
04/30 09:48:40 ET