Aldridge scored 31 points and grabbed a career-high 25 rebounds to
lift the Trail Blazers to a 111-104 victory over the Houston Rockets
at the Moda Center.
"That's the best game I've seen L.A. play — ever," said forward
Nicolas Batum, in his sixth season as Aldridge's teammate in
Portland. "He has improved every year, and right now he is the best
power forward in the league, no doubt. And I don't think he's even
reached his full potential yet."
Center Robin Lopez added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Batum
contributed 15 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Blazers
(19-4). Portland improved to 10-2 at home.
Center Dwight Howard had 32 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked
shots, and guard James Harden collected 25 points, seven assists and
six rebounds for the Rockets (15-8).
Aldridge started the game 0-for-5 and made only one of his first
eight shots from the field. However, the eighth-year pro converted
11 of his last 14 attempts, finishing 12-for-22.
"Couldn't make a shot for a while," said Aldridge, who recorded the
first 30/25 game in franchise history. "But then I found a rhythm
the third quarter, and it stayed with me the rest of the way."
Acting Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said, "He's a load. I can't
remember seeing someone who takes so many hard, contested, fall-away
jump shots and consistently makes them. He is really, really good."
Trailing by one point at the half, Portland started the third
quarter on a 16-5 run to take a 59-49 lead. Houston, with Howard
working the middle, rallied to regain the advantage at 73-72, but
the teams went into the final quarter tied at 76-76.
The Blazers opened the fourth period with a 10-0 tear. The Rockets
roared back again, drawing to within 97-95 on Harden's three-point
play with 4:45 remaining. However, Portland guard Wesley Matthews
(18 points) hit a step-back jumper and then finished an 11-1 run
with a three-point play for a 108-96 edge.
Both teams started cold from the field — Portland 4-for-15, Houston
4-for-13 — and the score was tied at 9-9 midway through the first
quarter. The Blazers finished the quarter shooting 8-for-26 (.308)
but took a 21-20 lead into the second quarter.
Houston moved in front 38-33 with 4:30 left in the second period,
then settled for a 44-43 advantage at the break. Harden led the way
with 12 first-half points, while Howard had 11 points and 10
[to top of second column]
"Portland is really good," Sampson said. "(The Blazers) are really
good in this gym. They're playing with a lot of confidence. We got
to the fourth quarter and had a chance to win, but you know, we move
Howard was 14-for-22 from the field, but Lopez played him straight
up for most of the game, allowing Portland's other defenders to
focus on limiting opportunities for Houston's other players. Aside
from Howard and Harden, the rest of the Rockets combined for 47
points on 18-for-54 shooting (.333).
"Dwight's at his most effective when he's drawing double-teams and
kicking the ball out and they're able to get some open 3s," Lopez
said. "We were focused on letting him getting his. We just didn't
want anybody else to get off too bad."
Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Robin plays the right way. Rather
than give up an easy two, he made (Howard) work for it. To be able
to help on penetration and guard Dwight, Robin was very effective in
Twenty minutes in the game, Portland was shooting 12-for-40 (.300)
but was still within 38-34. The Blazers finished at .326 for the
first half, .438 for the game.
NOTES: Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge became the first NBA player to
record 30 points, 25 rebounds and two blocked shots in a game since
Sacramento's Chris Webber in 2001. ... Aldridge's previous career
rebounding high was 23. The franchise record is 27 by Sidney Wicks
in 1975. ... Portland C Robin Lopez registered his 10th
double-double of the season, a career high. ... Houston's Jeremy Lin
(knee) returned to action after missing the previous six games. He
had five points and two assists in 15 minutes off the bench ...
Rockets C Omer Asik (thigh) missed his fourth consecutive game. ...
Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson ran the Rockets in the absence of
Kevin McHale, whose mother died Tuesday night. Her memorial service
is Friday. McHale will also miss the Rockets' road game Friday night
game against the Golden State Warriors, but could return for
Sunday's game in Sacramento against the Kings. ... Portland rookie G
C.J. McCollum, who has yet to play this season due to a broken left
foot, was cleared for some basketball activity and was shooting with
his teammates prior to Thursday's game. There is no timeline for his
return, Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
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