Saturday, January 14, 2012

Portland Trailblazers vs. Houston Rockets

The game began with the Blazers looking unable to rebound without Camby in the middle.  Both teams came out of the gates slow, as both teams were on the second nights of back to backs.  The Blazers were able to create open, long shots, but couldn't convert early on. Crawford and Batum checked in late in the first and hit three big threes, but Aldridge was unable to get going, he went 0-4 in the first.  Meanwhile Kyle Lowry couldn't do wrong scoring 11 in the quarter.  The first quarter ended with Houston leading 27-21.

 The second quarter started with Craig Smith scoring the Blazers first 9 points (yes it was actually Craig Smith).  Let me reiterate this, Craig Smith scored the Blazers first 9 points of the quarter!!  Then the Rockets went on a run, Portland  missed point blank shots and Lowry capped off the run with a pullup three.  Batum was the only thing keeping it from a blowout, He hit five threes and finished with 20 points in the half.  They were down 58-53 at the half.

Gerald and LaMarcus bumped and bruised their way to a small lead midway through the third, but Lowry had a response.  Portland had no answer for Lowry and went into the fourth down 84-76.

The Blazers started the quarter doubling Lowry and posting up Aldridge.  Lowry began to struggle and LaMarcus sort of got it going, but not in the way Blazers fans have been accustomed to.  The Blazers defensive intensity really seemed to pick up in the fourth.  The game went down to the wire with the Blazers taking a small lead and then trading buckets.  Down 2, LaMarcus hit a long jumper to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining.  For the last shot of the game the Rockets elected Kyle Lowry to shoot.  Lowry took a twenty footer just left of the key for the win, but Felton got his hand in Lowry's face and Lowry missed off right iron.

In the overtime both teams struggled to score and traded steal after steal.  Kevin Martin hit a huge floater to put Houston up 3 with 31 seconds left.  Gerald drew the foul, and converted one of two free throws.  On the other end Martin got Batum on the pump fake and hit both his free throws.  The Blazers got a quick two on a Batum alley-oop, but Martin hit another pair to ice the game.  The Blazers fell to the Rockets 107-105 in overtime.

Player Grades
LaMarcus Aldridge C (22 points, 7-21 shooting,10 rebounds, 5 assists) Aldrige missed from point blank time and time again and didn't defend as well as I would have hoped in Camby's absence.
Gerald Wallace C- (10 points, 4-12 shooting, 8 rebounds) Other than rebounding well Wallace didn't do much and was terrible from outside.
Wes Matthews D- (5 points, 2-8 shooting 2 rebounds 0 assists) Wes disappeared in this game.
Raymond Felton B- (13 points, 6-12 shooting, 0-6 3 pointers, 5 assists) Ray didn't miss a shot that wasn't a three, but he missed 6 3's, he got to the rim at will against Houston's defense.
Kurt Thomas B (4 points, 2-5 shooting, 7 rebounds) In his first start Kurt really helped on the glass and interior defense.  This is all we need from him.
Jamal Crawford B- (11 points, 3-12 shooting, 4 steals) Most of Jamal's misses came at the end of the shot clock making his shooting look much worse than it actually was.
Nicolas Batum A+ (29 points, 9-15 shooting, 8 rebounds 4 blocks) Nic was amazing, his offense not only kept Portland in this game, but he also played lock-down D.  He also had 4 highlight worthy blocks.  You will rarely see me hand out A+'s, but Nic deserved it tonight.
Craig Smith A- (11 points 4-5 shooting, 3 rebounds) Craig dominated Patrick Patterson and got to the rim at will, I would've hoped for a little more rebounding out of Craig though.
Nolan Smith C+ (1 block, 2 fouls, 3 minutes) Nolan didn't score, but was extremely aggressive and did a good job trying to spark the Blazers.

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