Lillard assesses first playoff experience
HOUSTON – The Portland Trail Blazers proved on a grand stage that they now have two superstars on its roster.
Damian Lillard joined that select company with LaMarcus Aldridge Sunday night in a 122-120 overtime win over the Houston Rockets in the Toyota Center.
This game had every emotion one could have. It was intense, exhilarating, physical, emotional and so much more. Those two faced every obstacle and overcame it. Portland looked as if they had enough midway in the fourth quarter, but they fought back and shocked the Rockets on national television, stealing Game 1 of this series and taking homecourt advantage away from the Rockets.
Aldridge played out of his mind to go for a franchise playoff high of 46 points and 17 rebounds along with two blocks before fouling out in overtime. His sidekick Lillard scored 31 points, pulled down nine boards and distributed five assists in his playoff debut.
The two were sensational and Lillard took another step towards being one of the true great points guard we have in this game.
“I think if any team losses a player that has 46 and 17 and they go into overtime, they would lose that game,” Earl Watson said. “But Dame had momentum and took it over from that point on. He became a superstar tonight.”
Before the game, Aldridge never looked as focused as he was going into tonight’s contest. He absolutely shredded the Rockets defense and no matter whom they put on him, he ate them up for lunch. He hit his turnaround jumper and slashed to the bucket, making it extremely difficult to figure out his tendencies.
He even went two-for-two from long distance. The three-time All-Star had it going.
“I still don’t think I get the respect that I deserve but they’ll see,” Aldridge said after tonight’s performance. “All I’m about is winning and at the end of the day, I’m good with that.”
Wesley Matthews chipped in 16 points, Nicolas Batum had 14 points, and eight rebounds and Robin Lopez contributed six points, eight boards and a block.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Houston. It’s official: this series is going to be one heck of a match.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Batum said. “I know what it’s like to win the first game and then lose the next one badly. One game doesn’t win the series. We’re not satisfied.”
Patrick Beverley sprained his right knee during the game and had to be helped to the locker room. It's his meniscus on that same knee. He will have an MRI Monday morning.