Portland wins series 4-2 (Game 2 of 6)

Portland wins series 4-2

Game 1: Sunday, April 20th
Trail Blazers122Final
Game 2: Wednesday, April 23rd
Trail Blazers112Final
Game 3: Friday, April 25th
Trail Blazers116
Game 4: Sunday, April 27th
Trail Blazers123
Game 5: Wednesday, April 30th
Trail Blazers98Final
Game 6: Friday, May 2nd
Trail Blazers99

Trail Blazers 112

(54-28, 23-18 away)

Rockets 105

(54-28, 33-8 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    9:30 PM ET, April 23, 2014

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 23 30 30 29112
    HOU 31 22 24 28105

    Top Performers

    Por: L. Aldridge 43 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk

    Hou: D. Howard 32 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Blk

    Trail Blazers-Rockets Preview

    HOUSTON (AP) -- James Harden missed 20 shots, including two in the final seconds of Houston's Game 1 loss to Portland in overtime.

    Now the key word for the Houston star entering Game 2 on Wednesday night is better; he must play better, and the Rockets must be better when it comes to their ball movement.

    "I wasn't really driving and attacking and being aggressive like I needed to be," he said. "I think when I get into the attack mode everything else opens up, the assists come and the easy layups come and whatnot. So I've got to be more aggressive."

    The Trail Blazers know they aren't going to keep Harden from shooting. He's averaging 16.5 attempts a game this season. But their plan is to make every shot he takes as difficult as possible.

    "That's what he does and we just need to make them difficult," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We need to contest them and do as good a job as possible. ... He's going to get his shots, but we've got to find him in transition, we've got to limit his attempts at the rim, do it without fouling, all of those things."

    Harden still managed to score 27 points in the opener of the first-round series. That caught the attention of the Trail Blazers, and LaMarcus Aldridge said they have to make sure Harden doesn't "go off" against them in Game 2.

    The question is how they will do that?

    "Just try to stay close to him because he's very good in transition," Aldridge said. "He's very good at that pull-up 3, he's good at getting to the line, just trying to make all of his looks tough and don't give him any space."

    Rockets coach Kevin McHale was quick to point out that the problems his team had on Sunday certainly weren't limited to Harden.

    "It was just a lot of settling for shots," McHale said. "Just looking at their faces, they were almost all hyperventilating. They were all jacked up and juiced up to go and we didn't play very well."

    Another big problem for the Rockets was their defense. Aldridge set a career high with a franchise playoff-record 46 points.

    "We were really cognizant of trying to take the 3-point line away, probably too much so," McHale said. "We didn't dig, we didn't help. We didn't do a lot of things."

    Houston has promised adjustments in Game 2 to deal with Aldridge. McHale was cagey when asked what he planned to do, but did say that the Rockets could double-team him more.

    Dwight Howard is working to make sure the Rockets not only play better on Wednesday night, but that they also keep a good attitude. He's pointed out to his teammates that his Orlando team lost its first game in the postseason in 2009, and then went on to the NBA Finals.

    "We lost a game we should have won but we've got a brand new game," Howard said. "The series is not over ... there's no need to put our heads down. Just stay together. We didn't let any negative thoughts get in our head. Don't let this one game dictate how we're going to play for the rest of the series."

    Howard has known Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon for more than five years and has been working with him after practice this week. They also have been chatting about what the Rockets need to do to get back on track after the tough loss in Game 1.

    "The Dream has been talking to me the last two days about just playing the game," Howard said. "When you think about winning so much that's when you're uptight and that's when you tend to mess up."


    Research Notes

    When Dwight Howard loses Game One of a particular series, his teams are just 2-5 in Game Two and his teams are just 1-6 in terms of winning that series... For reference sake, when Dwight Howard's team wins Game One of a series...his team is 5-0 in terms of winning that particular series... Howard has lost Game One at home of two different series in the past 5 seasons (not including this seasons loss)...2011 First Round vs Hawks, Magic lost in 6 games, and in 2010 Eastern Conference Finals vs Celtics, Magic also lost in 6 games... Howard has only won one series in his career when he has lost Game One at home...2009 First Round vs 76ers, Magic won series 3-2 in a do-or-die Game Five in Orlando...Dwight had 24 points and 24 rebounds in that game...
    James Harden has shot 14-of-47 (29.8%) so far in the 2014 NBA playoffs, including 8-of-32 on jump shots. Of his 32 jump shot attempts, 27 of them have been contested.
    Prior to this series, LaMarcus Aldridge had never scored 40+ points on the road in 298 career road games (including playoffs). He's now done it in back-to-back games.
    Dwight Howard scored 25 points in the first half, including the first 13 points of the game for the Rockets, but was limited to seven points in the second half. He was double-teamed on six of his seven post touches in the second half.
    James Harden has shot 14-of-47 (29.8%) so far in the 2014 NBA playoffs, including 8-of-32 on jump shots. Of his 32 jump shot attempts, 27 of them have been contested.
    Aldridge does it again

    ESPN Stats & Information