The Portland Trail Blazers jumped out to a surprising 2-0 series lead with an impressive 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 2. Portland won the first game of the series, 122-120, in overtime behind a monster performance from LaMarcus Aldridge. In Game 2, it was more of the same. Aldridge led the Blazers with 43 points and eight rebounds.
Dwight Howard made his first six shots of the game, accounting for the Rockets' first 13 points. Portland tried to use Robin Lopez in single coverage against him, and that clearly wasn't working. Howard used his full arsenal of skills to torch the Blazers in the first half and finished the half with 25 points. Oh, and he threw down this ridiculous alley-oop. Howard finished with 32 points and 14 rebounds in the losing effort for Houston.
Fans have paid a lot of attention to the backcourt matchup between Damian Lillard and James Harden, but this one was all about the front court. While Howard dominated the first few minutes of the game, Aldridge completely took over after that. He finished the first half with 23 points and didn't slow down at all in the second half. No matter what defense the Rockets threw at him, Aldridge just rained jumpers down upon them. By the end of the third quarter, he had 39 points.
Just like Game 1 of this series, Game 2 was played at a ridiculously-frantic pace. And neither team played very much defense. Whenever one team looked like they were going to open up a decent lead, the other team came roaring back. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Blazers grabbed the lead and never let go. An utter lack of defense from the Rockets meant that they couldn't really close the gap until the final seconds of the game. By then, it was too little, too late.
Both Lillard and Harden struggled to score efficiently in this game. Lillard tallied just 18 points on 3-of-14 shooting. However, he did contribute 11 assists and helped facilitate the offense. Meanwhile, Harden was 6 of 19 from the field for 18 points. He's now 14 for 47 (29.8 percent) from the field in the series; he's going to have be a whole lot better than that if Houston wants to win into this series.
One of the biggest problems for the Rockets was that they were unable to hit three-pointers. In Game 1, Houston was 8 for 35 from behind the arc. In Game 2, they shot just 3 of 16 on threes.
Portland got significant contributions off the bench from Dorell Wright and Mo Williams, who combined for 28 points. Those two guys helped make up for the fact that both Lillard and Nicolas Batum had subpar games.
The series now shifts to Portland. The Blazers have an incredible home crowd, and the next two games are virtually must-win games for Houston. Based on what we've seen thus far, it doesn't look like Houston has what it takes to pull off that kind of comeback. If the Rockets intend to make this a series, they'll need Harden and Howard to both have big games on the road.