Rockets-Trail Blazers Game 1 Playoff Preview (Automated Insights)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:25:30 PDT)
Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets begin their playoff journey in Game 1 against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets controlled the season series, going 3-1 while averaging 116.0 points per game and giving up 109.5 points per game. The Houston Rockets begin the playoffs after capping off the regular season with an impressive record of 54-28. On the other hand, the Portland Trail Blazers enter the playoffs after finishing up the regular season also with a superb record of 54-28.
Rockets-Trail Blazers Game 2 Playoff Preview (Automated Insights)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:23:11 PDT)
With another road win, the Portland Trail Blazers can return home with a big 2-0 series lead over the Houston Rockets. Game 2 is crucial for the Rockets, who don't want to be on the road in Game 3 down 2-0. It was a highly contested battle between the Trail Blazers and the Rockets in Game 1, with the Trail Blazers winning 122-120. LaMarcus Aldridge provided the boost for the Trail Blazers by scoring 46 points and posting 18 rebounds.
Trail Blazers-Rockets Game 3 Playoff Preview (Automated Insights)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:22:11 PDT)
After securing two road wins in Game 1 and Game 2, the Portland Trail Blazers are poised to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Houston Rockets in Game 3. The Rockets will need to step up their game if they hope to avoid a 3-0 hole. The Trail Blazers came to play in Game 2, beating the Rockets 112-105. In the big victory, LaMarcus Aldridge was the game's high scorer, recording 43 points for the Trail Blazers.
Mavs home after split at Spurs, but is that good? (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:21:40 PDT)
Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are coming home after showing they won't go quietly in a first-round series with top-seeded San Antonio. Part of the big German wants to stay in South Texas after the Mavericks squandered a strong game in the playoff opener by going cold late before dominating most of the way in Game 2 and squaring the best-of-seven series. Dallas had the worst home record among the eight playoff qualifiers in the Western Conference, including a late-season loss to the Spurs. The eighth-seeded Mavericks have been weak enough in their building that Nowitzki even said it was ''a little dangerous'' going back for Game 3 on Saturday after playing so well in San Antonio.
Oscar Robertson thinks Carmelo Anthony should leave the Knicks and join the Rockets, which is nice (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:49:44 PDT)
Frustrated James Harden calls reporter 'weirdo' after testy exchange following Rockets' Game 2 loss (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:49:21 PDT)
These are, to put it mildly, trying times for the Houston Rockets. They've found themselves utterly unable to stop, or even appreciably slow down, Portland Trail Blazers All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has stepped into the spotlight fresh-dipped in flames and become the breakout star of the opening round of the 2014 playoffs by averaging — averaging! — 44.5 points and 13 rebounds in 40.5 minutes per game in staking Rip City's finest to a commanding 2-0 lead with the series heading back to the Pacific Northwest for Friday's Game 3 . It's been sensational to watch Aldridge repeatedly cook the likes of Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Omer Asik — although Asik was most successful against LMA in Game 2, according to SportVU one-on-one defensive matchup data — and make shot after shot from all over the court against all manner of coverages and tough closeouts ... provided, of course, you're not a Rockets fan.
If you do happen to holler for Houston, though, you're probably a bit less thrilled at the offensive performance put forth by James Harden. The All-Star shooting guard has struggled mightily against the defense of (mostly) Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, making just 14 of his 47 shots (29.8 percent) through the postseason's first two games, including a woeful 5 for 19 mark (26.3 percent) from 3-point range. When you've just lost two games on your home court to fall into an 0-2 hole against an unconscious opponent, such struggles become magnified, and the increased scrutiny can lead to shortened tempers amid direct questioning. That appears to be what happened with Harden during his post-game media session in the Rockets' locker room after Wednesday's 112-105 loss.
You can hear the questions from a "national reporter" that started the ball rolling down hill in the clip below, as shared by the great Rockets site ClutchFans :
A bit brusque and bristly, sure, but nothing too spicy. Things apparently escalated a bit after Harden's scrum wrapped up, though, according to Mike Tokito of The Oregonian :
But when his media session in the Rockets opulent locker room ended, Harden went back at the reporter, asking if he had ever seen a player not play well before. The reporter answered that the struggle seemed unusual for Harden and was coming on a major stage, the playoffs.
The two went back and forth for a while, with Harden asking the reporter if he’d ever seen a basketball game before, then demanding to know whom the reporter was. The exchange got testy enough that team officials stepped in to usher Harden out.
As he left the room, Harden called the reporter “weirdo.”
Here's ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh with a bit more detail on the aftermath of the back-and-forth:
The interview session moved on, Harden calmly answered additional questions from other reporters. The Rockets' line of flat-screen TVs scrolled through the team's statistical ranks on the season, including their defensive efficiency rank of 13th. Harden focused on the Rockets' defense as their downfall in Game 2.
"I'm not worried about my offense, I'm worried about our defense — our defense as a team," Harden said.
A few minutes later, the questions stopped coming, but not before Harden, evidently still aggravated, circled back and spun the questioning to the aforementioned reporter, taking issue with his basketball credibility.
"You've never seen someone shoot 29 percent in two games? You must not watch basketball."
The longtime reporter responded that he'd watching basketball longer than Harden had been alive. And that Harden should be held to a higher standard because he is All-NBA.
"Weirdo," Harden said, before walking out of the room once Houston's PR staff stepped in.
First, let's acknowledge just how ludicrous it is that a guy whose chosen facial hair has inspired abstract art ... who described himself and his sense of style as "weird and funky" for GQ two years back ... who's out here dapping up invisible teammates and cutting fake R&B records ... and who got caught doing this in a Rockets huddle:
... would call someone else out as a weirdo.
Moving on: The media member with whom Harden tangled was later identified as Fran Blinebury of NBA.com, a former president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association who covered the Rockets as a beat writer and later columnist for the Houston Chronicle for decades, from the rise of the Ralph Sampson-Hakeem Olajuwon (or, then, Akeem Olajuwon) Twin Towers lineup through the back-to-back titles of the mid-1990s, from the arrival and ascent of Yao Ming through the unfulfilled promise of his pairing with Tracy McGrady, and from the start of Daryl Morey's reign through 2009, when he made the move from the Chronicle to NBA.com. Here's his post-Game 2 story on how badly the Rockets need Harden to get it going.
That Harden called a reporter a not-so-nice word in and of itself isn't that big a deal, although as the ClutchFans clip shows, the nature of the questioning wasn't exactly bomb-throwing or inflammatory; this was just Blinebury doing his job to write on what's clearly the biggest non-Aldridge story in the series. What it does lay bare, however, is just how frustrated Harden's become with his inability to find his rhythm after missing 20 shots in Game 1 and following that up with another 13 misses in Game 2 — "the most he has ever missed in a two-game span in his career," according to Haberstroh .
Perhaps most indicative of Harden's struggles: he's seen his free-throw rate (how many freebies you shoot per field-goal attempt taken) cut nearly in half from the regular season, which stands to reason, since he's attempting a far lower share of his shots in the paint (34 percent through two games) than he did during the regular season (41.4 percent), with a drop of just over 10 percent in frequency of attempts directly at the rim. A version of Harden that isn't getting to the rim at will and drawing fouls in droves is a substantially less effective version than the one who averaged 25.4 points per game during the regular season; if he's not carving up defenses and scoring enough to outstrip what he gleefully gives away on the other end , his minutes can swing from problematic for the opposition to problematic for the Rockets.
The more problematic those minutes, and that lack of production, becomes for the Rockets, the more problematic this will all become for Harden, whose regular-season accolades could start to become overshadowed by a postseason résumé that includes his disappointing five-game run in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 2012 Finals loss to the Miami Heat and a sub-40-percent turn in Houston's opening-round loss to Oklahoma City last year. The transition from "up-and-coming rising star learning how to be the man" to "high-scoring statistical darling who hasn't won anything" can happen quicker than a Eurostep, and if Harden doesn't find a way to get on track, it could come for him so soon as to feel sudden.
That sort of mounting pressure — especially ahead of a game that, if it goes Portland's way, would put Houston in a hole from which no team in NBA history has ever recovered in 108 tries — will make a guy feel a little antsy and grouchy. But that's no reason not to be nice, James. Us weirdos have to stick together, you know?
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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter!
Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
Chandler Parsons says nobody can guard LaMarcus Aldridge (NBC on Yahoo Sports)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 07:07:47 PDT)
The Rockets have no answers for LaMarcus Aldridge. After his incredible 46-point performance in Game 1, Aldridge went off for 43 more as the Blazers took down the Rockets 112-105 in Game 2 on Wednesday night. Every combination of players and defenses the Rockets threw his way failed. He was unstoppable. “I’ve seen him have a fantastic season, there’s no question,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “But these two games here are as good as I’ve seen him play. He’s very determined, he’s focused, he’s leading the team, not only with his play but the way he’s handling himself in the timeouts, in the locker room. It’s really as well as I’ve seen him play.” Simply put: Aldridge is playing on another level. He became the first player to score 40-plus points in consecutive playoff games since LeBron James did it in the Eastern Conference Finals as a member of the Cavaliers in 2009. The most amazing thing about Aldridge’s game on Wednesday night was that he scored his points in a completely different way than he did in Game 1. In the first game of the best-of-seven series, Aldridge dominated the paint. The Rockets were determined to take that part of his game away in Game 2. And they did. But Aldridge shot jumpers right over them. “We tried changing it up tonight,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “That first game, he got in the paint and wore us out and tonight, he was picking and popping and moving and we were having a hard time running people at him because he was kind of on the perimeter the whole time.” The series now shifts to Portland, where Aldridge and the Blazers will host Game 3 on Friday. But, at least through two games, Aldridge has been spectacular. There have been seven 40-point games in Trail Blazers’ playoff history and Aldridge has two of them after the first two games of this series in Houston. The Rockets have had a player go for 40 against them just 10 times in their playoff history and Aldridge, of course, now owns two of them. The Rockets simply had no answers for the 6-11, three-time All-Star. He’s been the best player on the court for two games. “Just continue to try to play good defense with a hand up,” said forward Terrence Jones, who has been one of several Rockets to struggle with Aldridge this series. “He really had it going in the first two games and making some pretty unbelievable shots so it was good defense, we just have to make sure we continue to box out, get rebounds on the defensive end when they do miss.” If the Rockets think they’re playing good defense against Aldridge, how frustrating is it to see the big man rise above them and drill 20-foot jumpers? “It’s basketball. It happens when you guard great players,” Jones said. “You just want to continue to play the best D you can and stick to the gameplan.” Rockets guard James Harden said the most important thing is to limit Aldridge’s easy looks and offensive rebounds. Basically anything that the Rockets can control, they need to. Harden explained that once Aldridge starts getting offensive boards and doing the little things, those tough shots seem to start falling even more. “It’s tough, man. It’s tough,” Harden said. “He’s going at a high level, making tough shots, he’s getting to the foul line, he’s offensive rebounding, he’s doing the whole package and it’s tough for us. We have to figure something out soon. Game 3, I think we win or it’s over.”
-- Dave Zangaro, CSNHouston.com
Road teams off to flying start in NBA playoffs (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 24 Apr 2014 00:10:54 PDT)
Here's the list of teams that had home-court advantage entering the opening round of these NBA playoffs: Indiana, Miami, Toronto, Chicago, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers. Here's the list of teams that still held that advantage after Wednesday night: Miami.
Aldridge's 43 lifts Blazers over Rockets 112-105 (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:15:44 PDT)
LaMarcus Aldridge's son JJ, who turned 5 on Wednesday, texted him after the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff win and told him he looked like Spider-Man on one of his dunks. To the Houston Rockets the Portland star probably looked like a superhero on more than just that one play. Aldridge continued his dominance against the Rockets, scoring 43 points to lift the Trail Blazers to a 112-105 victory and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series. Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland on Friday.
No stopping Aldridge, Blazers in second playoff win (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:57:52 PDT)
HOUSTON -- Coach Kevin McHale had coyly offered zero clues as to what the Houston Rockets would devise in defending Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge differently compared with what was done in Game 1 when Aldridge set a franchise postseason scoring record for the Trail Blazers. Despite a defensive adjustment that attempted to slow Aldridge's pace down, he delivered another scintillating performance and the Trail Blazers defeated Houston 112-105 on Wednesday night at Toyota Center to take a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference quarterfinal series. Houston forced Aldridge out of the post, where he crushed the Rockets en route to a 46-point, 18-rebound effort on Sunday night, yet Aldridge still managed to pour in 43 points and corral eight rebounds to win his duel with Rockets center Dwight Howard, who paired 32 points with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Mavericks beat mistake-prone Spurs to level series
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:40:44 PDT)
Monta Ellis tallied 21 points and Shawn Marion scored 20 as the Dallas Mavericks routed the error-prone San Antonio Spurs 113-92 to level their opening round NBA playoff series at 1-1. Dallas took advantage of some sloppy play by the Spurs and could easily be ahead two games to none in the Western Conference series. San Antonio turned the ball over 24 times Wednesday, leading to 33 Dallas points.
Blazers top Rockets with historic LaMarcus Aldridge performance, grab 2-0 lead (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:17:17 PDT)
Last summer, Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was the subject of trade rumors that would have moved him from the only NBA team he's ever known. Nearly a year later, he's clearly been the best player of the first few days of the 2014 postseason.
For the second consecutive game, Aldridge terrorized the Houston Rockets' defense. Coming three days after his 46-point, 18-rebound performance in Portland's Game 1 win , Aldridge scored 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting to lead his team to a 112-105 win and a 2-0 series lead, giving Portland a huge advantage as the series heads to their home court for Games 3 and 4.
Aldridge's performance places him in impressive historic company. He is the first player in Blazers history to score 40 or more points in two playoff games over his entire tenure with the team, the first player to score 40 points in consecutive playoff games since LeBron James in 2009, and the third player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in both Games 1 and 2 on the road. Aldridge was an All-Star and early MVP candidate this season, but he has elevated his game to new levels in the first two games against the Rockets.
Perhaps most impressively, he's excelled in different areas of the floor in each game. In Game 1, Aldridge did the vast majority of his damage near the basket and at the line:
Trail Blazers 112, Rockets 105 (The SportsXchange)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 21:37:05 PDT)
HOUSTON -- Forward LaMarcus Aldridge delivered another scintillating performance and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Houston Rockets 112-105 on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center to take a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference quarterfinal series. Aldridge had 43 points and eight rebounds to win his duel with Rockets center Dwight Howard, who paired 32 points with 14 rebounds while adding four blocked shots. Game 3 is Friday night at the Moda Center in Portland. Rockets guard James Harden delivered his second subpar performance of the series, missing 13 of 19 shots from the field while scoring 18 points and committing five turnovers before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
The 10-man rotation, starring the Rockets' reserves and the potential folly of not using them (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:36:01 PDT)
Charles Barkley says Wizards will sweep Bulls after Game 2 OT win: 'This is O-V-E-R' (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:20:18 PDT)
After trailing by 10 points with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter and by six with just under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Chicago Bulls, 101-99 , in overtime to finish off an impressive road sweep at United Center. Randy Wittman's crew will head back to the nation's capital brimming with confidence and holding a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Bulls will travel east knowing that if they don't figure out a way to scratch out some more points against the Wizards' defense, they might not be long for the postseason.
At least one prominent national basketball commentator isn't banking on Tom Thibodeau and company finding that solution before Game 3 on Friday . Hall of Famer and Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley pronounced Chicago dead on arrival during TNT's post-game discussion of the Wizards' Game 2 win.
Here are Sir Charles' comments, as dutifully transcribed by Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog :
[Barkley] said John Wall “is learning to be a point guard instead of just a tornado out there.” He said Bradley Beal “has arrived.” And then he said this.
“I will tell you this: whoever plays that team in the second round is gonna have their hands full.”
“Are you saying this one is over then?” ["Inside the NBA" studio host] Ernie Johnson asked.
“This is O-V-E-R in a 4-0 sweep,” Barkley said. “It is flat-out over. [The Bulls] can’t beat them. They can’t score enough. Ernie, I told you all season, this was the third-best team in the Eastern Conference when they’re healthy. They’re fully healthy, Wall and Beal are terrific. Nene is the key. He’s a nightmare matchup for most guys.
“They’re gonna sweep the Bulls,” Barkley went on. “This series is a wrap. Whoever they play in the next series, whether it’s Indiana or Atlanta, they’re gonna have their hands full, because this team, they’re deep. They’ve got veteran leadership. They went out and got Andre Miller for leadership. Trevor Ariza’s been deep in the playoffs. Their two best players are [young]. They’re the key. Wall is growing up before our eyes, Beal can flat-out just shoot with anybody. But with the guys coming off the bench, this is gonna be a sweep.”
To be fair, Barkley's within his rights to crow a bit — as he said, he's been touting Washington as the East's third-best team (when healthy) for months , and he was one of relatively few national pundits to pick Washington to beat Chicago in the East's 4-vs.-5 first-round matchup. (For the record, none of us here at BDL picked the Wiz, nor did Woj or Spears . Such haters.)
And the odds of a comeback are certainly stacked against the Bulls. Only 16 teams in NBA history have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a postseason series — the 15 on this list and last year's Memphis Grizzlies, who came back to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers, and only three teams have come back to win a series after dropping the first two games on their home court. With all due respect to Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah and third-place finisher in Coach of the Year voting Thibodeau, this year's Bulls don't have Wilt, West and Elgin, like the 1968-69 Los Angeles Lakers did, or prime Hakeem Olajuwon, like the 1993-94 Houston Rockets did, or 26-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, like the 2004-05 Dallas Mavericks did. They're in serious trouble, and in the case of this particular emergency, they can't break open the glass and pull out a Hall of Fame offensive force to pull them out of it.
Trail Blazers-Rockets Preview (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 22 Apr 2014 17:07:53 PDT)
James Harden missed 20 shots, including two in the final seconds of Houston's Game 1 loss to Portland in overtime. So I've got to be more aggressive.'' The Trail Blazers know they aren't going to keep Harden from shooting. 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. ''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.
Charge against Rockets F Terrence Jones dropped (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 22 Apr 2014 16:05:33 PDT)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones has agreed to pay $10,000 to a charitable organization that benefits the homeless in exchange for having a misdemeanor harassment charge dismissed.
The 10-man rotation, starring Tony Allen's game-changing defense on Kevin Durant (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:24:14 PDT)
Tyreke Evans records double-double, Pelicans steal one from Rockets (Automated Insights)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 23:23:17 PDT)
Tyreke Evans put up 25 points and notched 10 assists and six rebounds in a tremendous all-around performance to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a close victory over the Houston Rockets, 105-100. The Pelicans had a strong shooting performance, finishing 43-82 (52.4%) from the field, including 6-12 (50.0%) from beyond the arc. New Orleans (34-48) has won just two of its last 10 games. Austin Rivers chipped in 18 points and eight assists for New Orleans as well.
Portland's Aldridge ready for Game 2 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:51:11 PDT)
A day after etching his name in Portland's record books with a franchise playoff-record 46 points in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge was already looking forward. The Trail Blazers rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and got a 122-120 overtime win on Sunday night. Aldridge made almost 55 percent of his shots including both of his 3-point attempts in a night where he scored the most points of his career. Houston coach Kevin McHale was left shaking his head at what the 28-year-old did to his team.
NBA roundup: Knicks fire Woodson (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:42:50 PDT)
The New York Knicks announced Monday that coach Mike Woodson and his entire staff were relieved of their duties. Woodson's status was the subject of speculation throughout the regular season, but the team made his departure official after a 37-45 finish to this season. Woodson had one year and $3.3 million left on his contract. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff," team president Phil Jackson said in a statement.
NBA admits error on overtime foul that knocked Dwight Howard out of Rockets-Blazers Game 1 (Video) (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:57:16 PDT)
Good news, Houston Rockets fans: If you thought that the referees botched the foul call that knocked Dwight Howard out of Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers late in overtime on Sunday, it turns out you were right! There is, however, some bad news: Your prize for being correct is absolutely, positively nothing but more frustration. (Please feel free to bring your nothing-but-more-frustration to the NBA league office in New York, where you can trade it in and redeem it for — you guessed it! — nothing but more frustration.)
NBA President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn issued the following statement on Monday afternoon:
“After video review by the league office, we have determined that the officials were incorrect in assessing a foul to the Rockets’ Dwight Howard with 10.8 seconds remaining in overtime. The foul should have been called on the Blazers’ Joel Freeland and Howard should have been awarded two free throws.”
Here's the play in question:
So, wait a second, NBA — you're telling me that if an offensive player is running to the basket to try to get an offensive rebound, and a defensive player who is face-guarding him just plants his feet, wraps his arms around the offensive player and holds him in a Ken Patera-caliber bear hug to prevent him from securing the loose ball, that defensive player should be assessed a foul? Huh! You learn something new every day!
Not only did the incorrect foul call remove Howard from the game with his team trailing by one point and less than 11 seconds remaining in overtime — it also sent Freeland to the foul line for two shots to extend the Blazers' lead, rather than sending Howard to the line with a chance to tie the game or put Houston back in front. It's no sure thing that Howard would have cashed in on his rightful trip to the charity stripe — he missed eight of his 17 free-throw attempts on Sunday, as the Blazers went to the "Hack-a-Howard" intentional foul strategy and the All-Star big man couldn't make them pay — but if nothing else, I'm betting Kevin McHale would've liked being able to avoid giving Portland the ball back with a chance to extend their advantage in the final 11 seconds.
As it turned out, Freeland made one of two freebies, James Harden's final-second attempt to tie came up short , and the Blazers scored a 122-120 overtime victory to take a 1-0 lead over the Rockets in their best-of-seven first-round series and snatch home-court advantage away from Houston, putting the Rockets in need of a big comeback performance in Game 2. Howard finished with 27 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in 34 minutes of work.
The Blazers came back from a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter thanks in large part to brilliant play from All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge (who finished with a Portland franchise-playoff-record 46 points and and 18 rebounds ) and Damian Lillard (who wound up with 31 points, nine rebounds, five assists and just one turnover in nearly 46 minutes of action in his postseason debut), but in those closing seconds of regulation, it was little-known British big man Freeland — who logged just 47 seconds of playing time — whose impact was felt the most.
“It wasn’t an easy situation,” Freeland said Monday, according to Mike Tokito of The Oregonian . “I’ve been sitting for like three hours, watching the game. But I was into the game, so it wasn’t that hard of a transition. I went in and I did what I had to do. I knew what I had to do was keep Dwight off the boards if possible and just try to play as solid as possible, and I did that.”
Well, you certainly did keep Dwight off the boards, Joel. And, if I may make another wrestling reference, as noted philosopher Bobby "The Brain" Heenan used said, "It's not cheating if you don't get caught." (Or, I suppose, even if you get caught the next day.)
Thorn's day-after mea culpa was the second announcement of this postseason acknowledging a missed call. The first came Sunday, when the league announced that officials had missed a call late in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon. Warriors forward Draymond Green should have been whistled for a personal foul for reaching in and making contact with Clippers point guard Chris Paul with 18.9 seconds left. Had the foul been properly called, Paul would have gone to the free-throw line, down 107-105, with a chance to tie the game. Instead, the foul went uncalled, the ball went out of bounds off Paul, and Golden State gained possession. The Warriors wound up holding on for a 109-105 Game 1 victory at Staples Center.
After the game, Paul and Clippers coach Doc Rivers said that L.A. still had opportunities to win the game, but did note that it was a big call. Green, for his part, said he didn't really get why the league's going to the trouble of increased after-the-fact transparency , since it doesn't really amount to much of anything.
"The game is determined now," Green said after the game, according to Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc J. Spears . "I'm not sure what anyone really gets out of it. I would say the same thing if it weren't in our favor. I probably would be more upset if it went the other way because there is nothing you can do about it now. I'm not sure what anyone gets out of it."
There are probably a lot of fans in Houston and Portland that agree with you, Draymond.
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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter!
Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
NBA: Dwight Howard's 6th foul was incorrect call (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:13:03 PDT)
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA says the call that resulted in Houston's Dwight Howard fouling out Sunday was incorrect. Instead, the All-Star center should have received two free throws that could have given the Rockets the lead.
Timberwolves' Rick Adelman retiring after 23 years (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:06:16 PDT)
As his 23rd season as an NBA coach entered the home stretch, Rick Adelman looked tired. So when he finally decided to step away, announcing his retirement from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, he did so with mixed feelings about the pressure-cooker life he is leaving behind and the one that awaits him. ''It becomes your life, your family's life, an everyday routine,'' Adelman said of the NBA. We're looking forward to that.'' Adelman and the Timberwolves had a mutual option in place in the four-year contract he signed in 2011.
NBA: Officials wrong for calling foul on Howard (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:54:58 PDT)
The NBA said Monday that officials made a mistake when they called a foul on Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard with 10.8 seconds left in overtime of Sunday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Instead, the foul should have been called on Portland power forward Joel Freeland. "After video review by the league office, we have determined that the officials were incorrect in assessing a foul to the Rockets' Dwight Howard with 10.8 seconds remaining in overtime," NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement. "The foul should have been called on the Blazers' Joel Freeland and Howard should have been awarded two free throws."
Houston's Beverley cleared for Game 2 (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:34:11 PDT)
Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley has been cleared to play in Game 2 on Wednesday night after injuring his right knee in the opening game of the first-round playoff series against Portland. Beverley was injured when LaMarcus Aldridge knocked him down setting a pick with about a minute left in the Trail Blazers' 122-120 overtime win on Sunday night. Beverley says he felt pain in the same area where he was injured before when he was knocked down on Sunday night.
Rockets PG Beverley expected to play Game 2 (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:47:07 PDT)
Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley is expected to play Game 2 of the first-round playoffs series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday after an MRI revealed no new damage to his injured right knee.
Timberwolves coach Adelman retires after 23 seasons
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:56:15 PDT)
(Reuters) - Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman announced his retirement from coaching in the NBA on Monday after 23 seasons in the league calling the shots for five different teams. Adelman, who ranks eighth in wins on the National Basketball Association all-time list and twice took teams to the NBA Finals, will remain with the Wolves as a consultant. "I think it's time for me to step aside," said Adelman, 67. We're looking forward to that." Adelman, who was named head coach of the Timberwolves ahead of the 2011-12 season, took over a team that had won 15 and 17 games the prior two seasons.
Rockets guard Patrick Beverley cleared for Game 2 (Yahoo Sports)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:44:47 PDT)
An MRI on Monday morning showed no new damage to Beverley's right knee.
Adelman announces retirement (The SportsXchange)
(Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:34:44 PDT)
Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman announced Monday that he is retiring. Adelman was 97-133 in his three seasons in Minnesota and the Timberwolves were 40-42 in 2013-14. "I think it's time for me to step aside," Adelman said in a statement. The Timberwolves said that Adelman plans to move back to Portland, Ore., to spend time with family, including his grandchildren.