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Playoff basketball is the best.
Tie game, 2.9 seconds left.
Harden fouled on a mid-range shot, going to the line with 7.8 sec left. He makes BOTH. 106-104 Rockets. Timeout Portland.
Lillard for three. All tied up.
Howard nails both free throws. Pretty wild stuff. Rockets up 3, 32.4 left.
Dwight Howard makes BOTH free throws. Seriously. Rockets up 104-101, 32.4 sec left.
Lin misses on a drive, but Howard fouled on rebound. Goes to line -- I kid you not - with 32.4 left in a one-point game.
LaMarcus Aldridge now has 41 points and 16 rebounds. Rockets have no answer for him. 102-101 Rockets, 42.1 left. McHale calls timeout.
Aldridge loses the ball then Harden drives, scores and gets fouled! Rockets 102, Blazers 99, 0:55 left. Harden going to the line.
Jones has little chance on Aldridge. Howard was set to check back in when Jones fouled with 2:05 left, will wait last 5 secs of hack time..
Blazers on an 11-0 run since Howard hit his first two hack-a-Dwight free throws. Tie game.
Well now. Lillard and Aldridge have turned this game on its ear. 13-pt lead gone as LMA and-1 evens things with 2:44 left.
That just happened. Lillard blows past Lin for two, Lin loses the ball, Aldridge three-point play. All tied at 98.
McHale pulls Howard with 3:29 left.
Rockets problem as much on other end. Blazers have scored on all three possessions since they started intentionally fouling.
Hack-a-Howard obviously inflating the numbers but Rox likely to reach their season average for FTAs/game (31.1) after shooting 0 in 1st half
Stotts going all in on the hack-a-Dwight. He made his first two, then missed next four.
With 4:30 left, Blazers pull out the hack-a-Dwight. He is 1 of 4 from the line.
Here comes Hack-a-Howard.
Lopez then fouls Howard. Bennett taking over.
And for all of Rockets' early issues on offensive glass, HOU now holds 20-12 edge in second chance points.
Robin Lopez was getting in Dwight's face and was just now whistled for a tech. Rockets now up 11.
Lopez barking at Dwight until Salvatore pushes him away and then hit him with a T.
Can understand why Portland would be loathe to send double-team help for Lopez. But Dwight is just obliterating him.
Rockets going pretty deep into the fourth quarter with Jones, Harden on bench. Would think time to get a bigger body on Aldridge.
Lillard stays in game. Seems OK.
Lillard ran into a Dwight screen. In a good deal of pain on Blazers bench.
Apparently, the Rockets acquired Dwight Howard between the third and fourth quarters.
Ruled a flagrant-1. Two shots and the ball with Rockets up 7, 7:44 left.
Officials go to video to consider a flagrant. Really wasn't, but good stuff, anyway.
Beverley fouled hard again. This time, he's skipping.
Pat Beverley now has 3 offensive rebounds - right near his average vs PDX this season. Btw, he led all PGs in offensive rebound rate this yr
Think we're about to get an answer on the "how long does LMA sit? question. 7-0 run fueled by D12, Beverley has HOU up 13 early 4Q.
Howard takes Lopez to rim on consecutive possessions. Still no double team. After Beverley 3, Stotts get TO to get Aldridge back in down 13.
Pat Beverley for three! Timeout Portland, Rockets back up by 13, 10:10 left in the game.
Rockets 79, Blazers 73 after 3. Aldridge with 24, 12 in 31 minutes. Howard has to show up to start fourth.
Rockets take 79-73 lead to 4Q. Harden had 13 pts in 3Q. Interesting to see how long, if at all, Aldridge rests in final frame.
Heading to the fourth, it's 79-73 Rockets. Parsons 22p, Harden 20p. After shooting zero FTs in first half, Rockets shot 14 in 3Q alone.
Lillard blows past Parsons. Asik fouls him for his fifth. Half the Rockets team raised their hands saying foul was on them.
Harden going to line for HOU's 11th and 12th FTs of the quarter. Portland has attempted one this period.
So much for opening it up late in quarter. Rockets offense stumbles badly with turnovers, missed 3s. Lead down to four.
Blazers turning to bench with 4 minutes left in third. Portland bench 1 of 12 for 3 points. Harden, Lin, Jones could open it up a bit here.
Robinson splattered Beverley, who seems very happy about that.
You know that NBA commercial where players sprout 8 arms and move like they're in the Matrix? That's what Beverley is playing like right now
Crowd screaming until J.J. Watt puts on his shirt. Folks are now very pleased.
J.J. Watt in the house, being told to put on his Rockets shirt on the jumbotron... and he's doing it.
Rockets bench goes nuts that Aldridge did not get T for shouting at Salvatore. Officials cranked up emotions here. Hou up 10 on 12-3 run.
12-3 Rockets run to start the third and the TC is electric. Timeout Portland, Rockets up 61-51, 8:26 3Q.
Howard picks up his fourth just three minutes into the second half. Asik back in, has three.
Beverley D on Lillard was terrific, but can't lose composure here. Always a fine line with him when cranks up the D that high.
Pat Beverley hounded Lillard for 14 seconds, was called for reaching in. Bennett Salvatore add a T for, something. He jumped around a bit.
Sarcastic cheer sweeps the arena as refs whistle a foul on a Dwight Howard drive. Rockets shooting their first free throw of the night.
Howard going to line for Rockets first free throws. Crowd gives call a standing ovation.
Rockets did good job dumping nightly science quiz to halftime, using tos during game for fire up crowd stuff. Sam Cooke would approve.
Rockets 49, Blazers 48 as Harden his step-back 3, his first in six attempts. Rockets zero FTA. Aldridge 16, 11; Parsons 17, 5.
After missing first 5 3s he attempted, Harden hits 1 before half to give HOU 49-48 lead at half. Lots of weird trends that likely won't last
HALF: Rockets 49, Blazers 48. Blazers go on 15-5 run over final 2:35 of half. Free throws: PDX 17, HOU 0 (zero!).
Now Harden on Aldridge, which went about as well as you'd expect. Garcia picks up the foul.
With both Rockets centers sitting with three fouls, Francisco Garcia in at the four, matched up with Aldridge.
So after Rockets rolled off 24-6 run, Portland has responded with 11-2 run of their own. And D12 has joined Asik with 3 fouls.
Howard dropped ball on Lopez, who he put on the ground fighting for rebound position.
1:45 left in the half and Rockets have not shot a single free throw this game. Portland has shot 13. Fans chanting "Refs you suck".
Howard picks up his second and third fouls on consecutive possessions, and then adds a technical.
HOU, btw averaged 31.8 FTs per contest against Portland this season – a mark that’s actually a smidge above its season average of 31.1.
Blazers don't usually foul much, but HOU -- No. 1 team all year in FTs per game -- still at zero FTs w/ 2:06 left in half.
Among the many big differences between first and second quarters, Rockets with 1 turnover and have allowed 0 2nd chance points in 2nd Q.
Parsons averaged 17.5 vs.Blazers during the season, has 17 in 17 minutes tonight as he heads to bench. Dwightmobiles for everybody.
Lin with a terrific move and drive. He missed, but saved the rebound and fed Jones. Tossed oop to Howard on previous possession.
Harden and Howard a combined 3-of-14 from field. So naturally HOU up 40-33 mid 2Q. Parsons, Lin, Jones outstanding picking up slack.
Beautiful save by Jeremy Lin to Terrence Jones under the hoop for a slam! Rockets now up 40-33. Timeout Portland, 5:49 2Q.
Rockets right now should probably be scrambling to take down Harden, Howard artwork and replace them with Chandler Parsons posters.
If Parsons keeps going like this, he might soon buy his own Ferrari. (Dan Fegan is here and thinking something like that.)
With Lillard, Mo Williams in together, Parsons matches up on Lillard.
W/ nothing else working, Parsons, Jones, Lin just drive Rockets back to a tie game w/ energy. Still might need Harden, Howard at some point.
9-2 HOU run to start 2Q. During reg season Rox took advantage of POR depth issues, too, compiling o-rating of 102.8, D-rating of 88.1 in 2Q.
Terrence Jones goes to the offensive glass, grabbing his 8th reb, then slams it home. All tied up now. Timeout Portland. Fans back into it.
Harden now 1 of 7. Passed up an open 3, then realized and launched it. He's struggling in all kinds of ways.
For all their myriad issues to start, HOU only down 2. Parsons a big reason why. He's basically only Rockets hitting shots, has team-high 12
Chandler Parsons was big in last year's playoffs and he's strong out of the gate tonight. He's got 12 points. Rockets down 29-27.
Aldridge leaves. Pretty sure he will come back since he headed to a restroom.
As had so often in regular season, Rockets getting killed on boards (Portland 8 off. rebounds) and turning it over (with 5 to Portland's 1.)
LMA's reg. season domination of Rox carried over to 1Q. Still waiting for Harden & D12 to do same. Both had ample good looks, didn't convert
Rockets led NBA in FTA this season. Took zero in first quarter.
Blazers 27, Rockets 20 after one. Story of the first quarter: Harden, Howard really struggled, a combined 2-11 from the field.
Asik offensive foul for a moving screen Rockets fifth turnover and his second foul. Moments later, he reaches on Aldridge. Three fouls.
Omer Asik whistled for his third foul already.
If chicks digged missed open 3s and bunnies around the rim, these guys would each have a harem awaiting them after 1Q.
Rockets getting killed on their defensive boards and turning the ball over. Sometimes, regular season not different from post-season.
The Blazers are good, but they're not this good defensively. Dwight, Harden a combined 1-8. Rockets down 21-15. JLin checking in.
Lin in for Harden. Usually in for Beverley here. McHale might want Beverley on Lillard, but might be trying to get Harden to chill, too.
Portland with 5 offensive boards on 12 misses so far. Blazers picking on HOU's season-long bugaboo right from the outset.
Howard, Harden a combined 1 of 8. That can be something of a problem. Aldridge with 10p, 5r and 2 blocks in eight minutes.
As expected, Asik in for Jones. Asik checks Aldridge with Howard on Robinson.
Rockets switched Parsons to Matthews. That can cause trouble, too. When had Garcia on Brewer, he killed Rockets on cross match on breaks.
And here we go: at 4:47 mark, we get first look at supersized lineup with Howard and Asik.
HOU comes out of timeout, runs pet play of elbow pnr w/ Harden/Howard that usually results in alley-oop dunk. POR all over it. Playoff bball
Ragged start for Rox who trail 14-8. Mentioned this in preview: Portland starting 5 actually outscored HOU by 36 pts in 72 mins this season
Howard dominated Blazers in regular season. So far, Lopez playing him man-to-man with little help. Howard 0 for 3 with a turnover.