Portland Trail Blazers kept their playoff hunt alive with a win over the Houston Rockets this Tuesday evening, 110-102.
This was a hard-fought win for Terry Stotts’ guys who had the lead throughout the entire event but ended up in a dramatic ending. With 4:06 to go, after Russell Westbrook’s dunk, both sides were leveled at 100.
It seemed that the Rockets might come back and snatch a win, but Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony prevented such a scenario. Two superstars scored Portland’s final seven points, to rebuff the Rockets’ surge and bring their team to just one and a half-game away from the Memphis Grizzlies.
“We understand what’s on the line, and we know what we got to do to give ourselves a chance in the postseason,” Damian Lillard said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”
Lillard had three and Carmelo four points in that ultimate run Portland made, with the most important being Carmelo’s three-pointer that separated the Blazers to five points. It was a massive morale boost for the guys from Oregon as they had a two-possession lead at the moment.
“Melo is a Hall of Famer, man. He’s an unbelievable teammate. … It’s always good to see him do well,” said Russell Westbrook following the game.
Anthony had 15 points and 11 boards in 36 minutes, delivering exactly what Stotts wanted. He was controlling the glass along with Jusuf Nurkic and was stretching the Rockets’ defense, opening the space for other teammates. Also, he was fantastic in defense making two vital stops.
“Earlier in his career, the ball would have been in his hands to start with,” Stotts said. “He has assimilated to his role and this team. He loves the game. He loves the camaraderie, he loves being in the NBA.”
The Trail Blazers were constantly leading, and apart from tying the game in the last sequence, there was nothing notable provided by the Rockets in this match.
Both of their leaders, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, didn’t have usual performances. Harden scored 23 points, shooting 7-for-17, with nine assists and six boards. Westbrook was 5-for-14 and 15 points. with the same number of assists as the Beard.
Jeff Green was excellent off the bench with 22 points, six boards, and five threes. Danuel House added 17.
“I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted to being in foul trouble,” Harden said about his performance. “But we had a lot of open shots that if we make those, it’s a different ballgame.”
We need to add that the former MVP entered foul trouble pretty easily, which was the main reason for his “poor” performance.
With the Blazers, Lillard had a versatile game and was near a triple-double with 21 points, nine boards and eight assists. CJ McCollum had a point fewer with seven rebounds and five dimes.
Jusuf Nurkic made a massive difference under the rim, and his 18 points and 19 boards were pretty big tonight. Portland had a rebounding advantage 64-39, and that was mostly because of Nurk.
Gary Trent Jr. hit four threes and 16 points off the bench.
The Blazers have 31 wins and 38 losses and are right behind the Grizzlies, who are 32-36. San Antonio 10th with 29-37, Pelicans have 29-38 while Suns sit at 29-39. It seems that the West is about to enter a very interesting playoff battle.
The Blazers are playing against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
On the other side, the battle for the higher places in the Western Conference is also exciting. Houston is tied fourth with Utah, as bot have 42-25. OKC is behind, 41-25. Rockets meet LA Lakers also on Thursday.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.