Damian Lillard knocked down two free throws with 17.0 seconds left in overtime to give the Portland Trail Blazers a thrilling 122-120 victory against the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of their first-round series on Sunday. Lillard finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge had a franchise playoff record 46 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out in overtime.
James Harden and Dwight Howard scored 27 points apiece for the Rockets, but Harden missed a potential go-ahead three and a potential game-tying jumper in the final minute of overtime. Harden shot just 8-of-28 overall and 3-of-14 from three. Howard tallied 15 rebounds to go along with his 27 points, but he fouled out in overtime on a questionable call.
The Rockets scored the first six points of overtime, only to see Aldridge and Nicolas Batum answer with two monster threes to tie the game back up. The rest of the period went back and forth, with Aldridge, Howard, Robin Lopez and Patrick Beverley all fouling out.
The game went to overtime courtesy of Aldridge, who tipped in a missed putback attempt by Lillard after Wesley Matthews missed a potential go-ahead three:
In a game of runs, the Rockets appeared to take control early in the fourth quarter, using a 7-0 spurt to go up by 13 points. The intensity was high all game, but things started to get especially chippy as the fourth went along. Mo Williams was whistled for a flagrant foul for his take down of Beverley, while Lopez picked up a technical foul for getting into it with Howard.
Just when it appeared the Blazers were coming apart at the seams, they made another run of their own. Terry Stotts employed the Hack-a-Howard strategy, and four misses at the line by the big man allowed Portland to get back into the game. The Blazers tied the game at 98-98 after an Aldridge and-1, but some clutch Harden buckets and a pair of Howard free throws put the Rockets up three.
Lillard responded with a three to tie the game back up again, however, Harden put the Rockets up two at the free-throw line. But, Aldridge would not be denied, scoring his 18th and 19th points of the fourth quarter on the game-tying tip-in.
Aldridge dominated early and often, nearly notching a double-double in the first quarter. Aldridge had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first as the Blazers racked up eight offensive rebounds. With Harden and Howard battling some jitters, Portland jumped out to a 27-20 lead after one quarter.
Houston came roaring back courtesy of Parsons, who poured in 12 points during a 24-6 run to open the second quarter. But, when it looked like the Rockets were going to run way with the game, the Blazers went on a run of their own. Portland went on a 15-2 run to take a two-point lead before Harden buried his first three in six attempts to give Houston a 49-48 lead at the break.
The Rockets came out guns blazing at the start of the third quarter, and the crowd got fired up even more after Patrick Beverley was called for a technical foul for clapping after a questionable foul call:
Harden led the charge, making a couple three-pointers and getting to the line six times after the Rockets failed to take a single free throw in the first half. Houston went up by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but the game of runs continued, as Portland stormed back to get back within four. The play evened out a bit at the end of the quarter, and the Rockets went into the fourth up by six before everything got really crazy.
The two teams will get two days off before squaring off in Game 2 on Wednesday in Houston.