Tuesday night, the Trail Blazers took advantage of their height against the small-ball lineup of the Houston Rockets.
Portland dominated on the glass from start to finish.
The Trail Blazers held a 29-24 lead after the first quarter thanks to their inside-out offense. As a team Portland started the game shooting 45.8 percent from the field, which included hitting 4-of-9 from three. The Blazers also recorded 20 rebounds in the first 12 minutes of action. That was just one way that Portland exploited Houston’s small-ball lineup.
The Trail Blazers success to slow down both James Harden and Russell Westbrook was a team effort with Damian Lillard getting the early defensive assignment on Harden. Gary Trent Jr. spent time defending the duo early on as well. The Blazers also ran two players at Harden.
At the half, Portland was up 61-56. As a team, the Blazers outrebounded the Rockets in the first half, 37-15 with nine of those 37 rebounds (a season-high) coming on the offensive glass.
The Rockets went 11-of-28 from deep in the first half in comparison to the Blazers’ 7-of-16 shooting from three.
Harden picked up his fifth foul midway through the third quarter. Harden finished with 23 points in 33 minutes of play.
Russell Westbrook was limited to just 15 points, as well. His streak of scoring 20+ points in a game was snapped at 36 games.
Down the stretch, Carmelo Anthony came up big on the defensive end and then drained a three to help the Blazers take a 107-102 with just over 42 seconds remaining.
Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's third seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:
Dwight Jaynes, Insider:
The Blazers went inside to hurt Houston all night but won it with a couple of clutch three pointers
Love seeing the Portland big lineup against the smallball… hope they play it all the way this way — makes the game much more ineteresting.— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) August 5, 2020
This is old-school hoops by Portland. Dominate the boards and get it inside, thus opening up the shot from distance,— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) August 5, 2020
Jamie Hudson, Reporter
This was a fun one. Just as expected the three-pointers were flying as soon as the game tipped off. But unlike in previous matchups where Blazers head coach Terry Stotts would adjust his lineup to fit his opponents’ lineup, Coach Stotts stood pat on his decision to stick with the big lineup of starting Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins alongside each other. And it worked out nicely. The Blazers bigs had a good two-man game working throughout the night. Plus, they got it done on the glass just as one would expect.
As for Gary Trent Jr., he continued to make noise on both ends in these seeding games, especially in the first half. Trent Jr. and CJ McCollum led the Blazers at the break with 13 points apiece.
Mike Richman, Reporter
At times it was ugly, as the Blazers seemed committed to missing layups for four full quarters. But in the end Portland stuck to its "Anyone But James Harden" plan and earned a massively important win as they chase down the eighth seed.
[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:
Up Next: The Trail Blazers face the Denver Nuggets for a 5:00p.m. tip-off Thursday. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.
Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!