Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Game 3 Recap: Houston Rockets 121 - Portland Trailblazers 116

 

In news that shocks nobody, the Rockets and Blazers played a great game 3 last night. But this time, the Rockets come away with the win.

 

I know there had been some talk in the final few games of Troy Daniels seeing some playoff minutes but if all I heard was Daniels played 20 minutes in game 3, I’m assuming someone got blown out. What an amazing situation he got put in, and what an amazing outcome he generated. Big Shot Bob passes the torch to Titanic Shot Troy (work in progress) and he nails the game winning three pointer with only seconds left in overtime.

I had a Houston sports extravaganza last night where I went to the Astros game then went to a relatively close bar to watch the Rockets. Had to leave Minute Maid in the 6th inning, but that turned out to be a blessing, as they gave up 7 runs in the 9th, but whatever. Watching last night’s game with a gaggle of Rockets fans was truly special and I definitely suggest catching one of road games in such a fashion. I was reviewing the game highlights on NBA.com and most of the plays seemed a little unfamiliar because there wasn’t 120 people all losing their minds every time the Rockets made a play. However the deafening silence from the Portland crowd after the Daniels shot was equally as sweet.

As far as the recap goes, I’m going to assume most of you watched the game itself, or at the very least you caught the well made highlights so I’m not going to spend time describing the game itself.

And for this I bring back the continually poorly named section:

Things I Thought Were Important About Game 3!

We Stopped LaMarcus Aldridge!!!…Kinda

The Twin Towers lineup has been a series changer for Houston; or at least for certain stretches. The lineup usually consists of Beverley, Harden, Parsons, Howard and Asik. In order for this group to function on both ends of the floor, Parsons and Harden have to be playing to their typical level, and in this series they just flat out haven’t.

However a purpose it has served is allowing Asik to do literally nothing else but mark LMA for 5-7 minutes at a time. Dwight Howard handles the rim protection and Omer puts all his effort towards making Aldridge uncomfortable, which happens to be one of his skills. LMA never found the rhythm he experienced in games 1 and 2, and I attribute most of that to Asik’s stellar defensive play. He still hit his open shots but gone were the moments where you wondered if Aldridge was some sort of genetically modified super human, sent to destroy the happiness of Houstonians. However in the final portions of the game, an alarming pattern did arise that LMA can take credit for…

 

The Aldridge Effect

So Houston used their go-to offensive lineup in the fourth and OT to keep themselves afloat and eventually pull out the win; Beverley, Daniels/Parsons, Lin, Harden and Howard. Howard matched up with the only big that Portland had in the game, LMA. One of the main reasons that Portland had such a successful fourth quarter (scoring 32 points) was because of the defensive situation that Howard was put in. LMA would stand on the perimeter and Howard would have to go out and shadow him because of the absolutely insane shooting that he has displayed through the series. With Howard out of the picture, Mo Williams, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum took turns beating their man to the basket and getting easy lay-ups or picking up the foul.

There was nothing Howard could do to help, because he would be leaving the Blazers strongest weapon wide open. If I’m Terry Stotts I would counter our offensive lineup like this every time. Yeah the Rockets will most likely collect some points, but for Portland, points would be a guarantee.

 

TROY FREAKING DANIELS

In true Rio Grande Valley fashion, he took six shots, and all of them were three pointers. He hit on 3 of 6 and all of them seemed to come in big situations where the momentum, or the game, was slipping away. His effort was refreshing as well. I forgot what it was like to watch a shooting guard put some effort forth on defense. As a result of Parsons struggles, Daniels picked up some of his minutes and all of Francisco Garcia‘s former role as bench gunner. Another crazy bit is that if Parsons hadn’t fouled out, Troy might not have even been in the game during the closing moments of overtime.

My favorite Troy Daniels moment was part of the final game winning three pointer. As Harden goes down and Jeremy Lin scrambles to pick up the ball Daniels swings around to create a passing lane, and as Lin begins his drive, Daniels throws up his hands, CALLING FOR THE BALL. The dude wanted that shot and he got it, and he made it. So cool.

 

Rockets’ Offense

The offense returned to normalcy in game 3 as we no longer treated Dwight Howard like Hakeem Olajuwon and every body benefited from that. Howard’s post up opportunities were thrown in as a change of pace, or in another instance, when the shooters were dealing with a cold spell. This was much more like the regular season offense that we had grown to know and love. The pick and roll, the pick and roll, THE PICK AND ROLL. I like it when the Rockets do things they are good at. If Harden and Parsons join the party soon, then Houston might just pull this series out.

 

Jeremy Lin’s Missed Layup

With just under a minute left, and the Rockets sporting a 110-107 lead, Lin got an outlet pass that gave him a pretty decent lane to the basket and he took it. He beat the Blazers down the court and at full speed tried to gently lay one off the glass for two points but it rimmed out, and the Blazers ran it back for a relatively open Batum 3 pointer that tied the game with 41 seconds left. Lin caught a lot of flack for this move and I understand why, but I still think he made the right move.

I think with under a minute left and a one possession lead you take the points if the opportunity is given and you ignore the clock. Points had not been coming easy at this juncture and if Lin pulls that back out you know the possession ends with a Harden fall away mid range shot. He had hit a few of these but I would still take a Lin fast break layup any day of the week. The other aspect is that we always bust Jeremy for not being aggressive and the move he made was the definition of aggressive so I prefer not to be a hypocrite.

It was an easy shot he should have made, and the Blazers capitalized on the mistake which intensely magnified it but the decision was correct, and I would support him doing it again.

 

The Rockets went into Portland and commenced the salvaging of this series and their season. There is a long way to go, but this is a hell of a step in the right direction.

Check out the statistical nitty gritty here.

Game 4 is Sunday at 830 PM CST on TNT.

Tags: Houston Rockets

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