Friday, December 13, 2013
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Aldridge's 30-25 effort carries Blazers past Rockets

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[December 13, 2013]  PORTLAND, Ore.  LaMarcus Aldridge started the game slowly Thursday night. Once he got going, Portland's All-Star forward never stopped.

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 rebounds.

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"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 on."

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 both."

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.

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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