Found November 04, 2012 on
NorthWest Sports Beat:
Fear The Beard? Not PDX
The Portland Trail Blazers have impressed early in the 2012-13 season, and that trend was no different on the road against the Houston Rockets.
Both teams are now 2-1 on the season, but only the Blazers escaped Saturday night with a hard-fought victory.
The final score was 95-85 in Portland’s favor, and there were a handful of key elements to the victory that the team must implement as their road trip continues against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.
Matthews had a clutch defensive play against Harden last night. Photo: AP
The Blazers played their first exemplary defensive game on Saturday, as they held the Rockets to just 85 points after they’d averaged 107 per game early in the year.
Portland recorded eight blocks in the victory, which was outstanding compared to the 2.5 per-game-averaged they’d posted in the first two games.
James Harden entered the game averaging a league-high 41 points per contest, and while the 24 points he scored against Portland is nothing to scoff at, the team’s defensive effort is what kept him so far below his early-season average.
Nicolas Batum had his first patented chase-down block of the season against Harden, and Wesley Matthews made yet another clutch defense play with his quick hands.
You always want to rest your starters whenever you can afford to do so, but in an overtime battle against a potential playoff squad, sometimes you’re just not given that chance.
J.J. Hickson played the fewest minutes of any starter with 36, but the rest of the crew was on the floor for 40-plus minutes throughout Saturday night’s contest. Nicolas Batum played the most minutes of anybody on the team with 45, while nobody else in the starting unit played less than 42.
This starting lineup is proving to be as exciting as it gets in the NBA, but despite their youth, you have to wonder how far into the year they’ll be able to handle playing so many minutes per game.
The bench was once again a non-factor for the Blazers, so if the team is hoping to rest its starters as the season progresses, they must see more production from the reserves moving forward.
After having a relatively quiet season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge broke out against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, and then yet again on Saturday against the Rockets.
The big man finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, all while contributing on the defensive end with two blocks.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s performance is the reasonDamian Lillard was able to take advantage late, as the Rockets were forced to double-team the All-Star instead of focusing on perimeter defense down the stretch.
Aldridge is the leader of this team, and no matter how much attention Damian Lillard, or anybody else on the roster gets, he will remain the go-to option the entire season.
Lillard showed poise during Saturday night’s road contest against the Rockets. Photo: Russ Isabella/US PRESSWIRE
Damian Lillard’s Poise
Although it’s a small sample size to say the least, Lillard’s historic start to his NBA career has to alleviate the concerns of most who didn’t believe in the rookie from Weber State.
Lillard played yet another complete game en route to the Blazers’ road victory, as he recorded 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds. He also showed his long-range shot on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
If there’s anything to critique the youngster on so far, it’s that he did turn the ball over three times against the Rockets—but so did half of the other four starters—and his shot selection isn’t always the best when he gets too excited.
That being said, Lillard has continued to enter the history books. With this performance, he became the first player since Grant Hill in 1994 to score 20 points in his first three contests, as well as just the second player ever to post at least 20 points and seven assists in each of his first three career games—Oscar Robertson is the only other player to do so.
The Blazers first overtime game of the season was a successful one, and it had everything to do with their ability to simply outplay the Rockets in the final five minutes of the contest.
Portland held Houston to just four points in the overtime period, and the young players on the team took advantage from the tip off.
Lillard showed that he has the clutch gene inside of him, as he scored or assisted on all 14 points in the extra period.
The rookie had two big three’s to extend the lead, and the emotion he showed late in the game is something you love to see if you’re a fan watching from afar.
There’s no denying that this is a young team, but their desire to win is apparent when they put together a performance like this one.
CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Jim RacaltoI am at a serious loss for words for a couple reasons. First, I know James Harden is red hot right now for his new team the Houston Rockets, but a haircut this early? They aren’t in the Finals yet, chief. Secondly, whoever did this cut must have been on glue. Check out this ridiculous and hilariously bad hair piece; a tribute to James “The Beard” Harden: Thanks...
Jasmine was a real sweetheart T…
James Harden was just traded to Houston Rockets no more than a week ago…and subsequently signed an $80 Million Dollar extension to remain with the Houston Rockets for the long haul — Now Harden isn’t only crushing it on the court, he’s also performing very strong off of it. Check out the tweet above, looks like the Beard is lining Houston’s...
This haircut of a member of the Red Rowdies (a group of Houston Rockets hardcore fans) is extremely frightening and wonderful. Check out the super fan’s haircut which is one of the best tributes to James Harden that you will most likely ever see. I am a bit confused as to the interesting changes that the barber made to Harden’s mug, but when all is said and done the beard will...
It was a surprising move when the Oklahoma City Thunder decided to ship off James Harden to the Houston Rockets, days before the NBA season even started.
Harden was able to ink a five-year, $80 million deal once he made it to Houston, turning down a deal from the Thunder earlier that went for $54 million over four years.
Harden says he wanted to stay with OKC, but they didn’t...
SantosJames Harden may have the entire Western Conference fearing the beard in Houston this season.Photo Credit: SBNation.com
Who said James Harden couldn’t be an alpha dog? Since his trade to the Houston Rockets, Harden has quickly cemented himself as one of the superstars in the league.
There were many out there who questioned whether or not the Oklahoma City Thunder were doing...
The Rockets had been pushing to complete the trade for James Harden by Friday, but the Thunder wanted to present a final offer to Harden with a 60-minute window.
HOUSTON -- Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews seemingly did enough by burying the game-tying 3-pointer with just under a minute left in regulation time on Saturday night at Toyota Center. But when he stripped Houston Rockets guard James Harden in the waning seconds, preventing Harden from hoisting a potential game-winning jumper at the fourth-quarter buzzer, he gave Portland...
James Harden has put on quite a show in each of his first two games with the Houston Rockets.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is only starting to get comfortable.
Harden looks to continue his remarkable play Saturday night as the undefeated Rockets open their home schedule against the Portland Trail Blazers, who haven't experienced much success during their last several...
Portland iced in loss
The Headline: Despite doing everything else right the Blazers can’t make their shots, landing their first loss of the season.
Portland Trail Blazers 92, Oklahoma City Thunder 106
When: 8:00 ET, Friday, November 2, 2012
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)
Officials: James Capers, John Goble, Pat Fraher
1. Wes alive...
Would you believe me if I told you James Harden’s encore was even more spectacular than his debut? What if I told you he dropped 45 last night, and that only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have scored more points in a team’s first two games of any NBA season? It’s all true, folks. Remember, I have no reason to stretch the truth. I, like many, have been critical...
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively.
Jennings guided the Bucks to a 2-0 record to start the season, a first for the team since the 2005-06 campaign. Jennings led the league in assists (13.0 apg) and paced the conference in steals (4.0 spg), while finishing...
The city of Houston is buzzing. With the fanfare that always seems to accompany Jeremy Lin since his anointment last year, and the acquisition of James Harden followed by two monster games, The Rockets have not garnered this type of attention in years. Amidst all of the excitement, several Rockets role players are ready to [...]