Aldridge leads Blazers past Houston

He tallies 31 points, career-high 25 rebounds

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

Updated: December 12, 2013, 10:57 PM

 

PORTLAND — LaMarcus Aldridge was at it once again at the Moda Center against an elite opponent.

Aldridge had his fourth 20-point, 20-rebound game of his career and his second of the season to help the Portland Trail Blazers defeat the Houston Rockets 111-104 Thursday.

Aldridge scored 31 points and grabbed a career-high 25 rebounds.

The Blazers faced a one-point deficit at halftime, but the best team in the West continues to be a second-half team.

“I thought the two halves were obviously a lot different,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “Neither team could really get it going offensively in the first half.”

The Blazers had a big third quarter, led by Aldridge, who had a rough first half. Aldridge scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the third quarter to help spark the Blazer run.

Aldridge and Houston’s Dwight Howard were engaged in a battle of the bigs on both ends. Howard finished with 32 points and 17 rebounds.

This game was a tale of two halves as neither team managed to crack 40 percent shooting in the first half.

The Blazers had a big third quarter, led by Aldridge, who had a rough first half. Aldridge scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the third quarter to help spark the Blazer run.

They needed every bit of Aldridge’s contributions as Damian Lillard went 1-for-10 and scored eight points. He did, however, have six assists.

The Blazers pulled away at the fourth quarter behind some big shots from Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum.

The Blazers played well against a small lineup, something that has given them trouble in previous games.

Aldridge was fantastic on the offensive end but Stotts gave him a lot of credit for his communication and handling of perimeter players when the Blazers switched pick and rolls, Houston’s bread and butter.

“That’s probably an understated part of his game tonight,” said Stotts. “He really took the challenge of switching lots of pick and rolls, he kept (James) Harden and those guys in front of him. He made them shoot over the top of them and we didn’t get beat in penetration.”

Robin Lopez also had a solid outing, notching his 10th double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Wesley Matthews scored 18 points on the night, while Batum had 15 points, six assists and six rebounds.

Portland now plays four road games in five nights, starting in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Game notes

• The Blazers and Rockets came in to the game as the No. 1 and No. 2 most-efficient offenses in the NBA respectively. Both teams struggled from the field as the two teams went a combined 4 of 28 to start the game. Neither team shot better than 40 percent with the Blazers going 8 of 26, while the Rockets shot 9 of 24 for the quarter.

The low-percentage shooting carried on into the second quarter.

• Aldridge had one of his colder starts to the game. Portland’s All-Star forward started off the game going 1-for-7 from field but did grab nine rebounds in the first quarter. He finished with eight points and 10 rebounds at halftime.

• Jeremy Lin made his return to the line-up for Houston on Thursday. He hadn’t played in a game since Nov. 27. Lin scored two points, two rebounds and one assist at halftime.

• The Blazers got their fair share of good looks from beyond the 3-point arc in the first half but were unable to convert the way they normally do. They went 2-for-12 in the first half. They came into Thursday’s game shooting 41.5 percent on 3s.

• However, the Blazers did a solid job defending in the first half. What the Blazers were able to do extremely well was limit Houston’s 3-point attempts. The Rockets came in averaging nearly 28 3-point attempts per game and had only nine attempts at halftime.