Sometimes all you can do is tip your cap.
Sometimes the other guy is just better.
In Portland’s 122-120 overtime win in game one Sunday night, LaMarcus Aldridge beat the Rockets up inside, minus a couple of corner threes, en route to a 46 point night. On Wednesday night, the Rockets took away the paint as best they could, but it didn’t matter as Aldridge lit them up for 43 in the Blazers 112-105 game two win.
“I made tough shots, and I thought they played great defense,” Aldridge said. “I don’t think too much was easy tonight. I just got into that rhythm and started making tough shots.”
On Wednesday night, Aldridge made 18 field goals. Only five came in the paint. He made 13 of his first 15 mid range jumpers, you know, the most inefficient shot in basketball and the shot the Rockets avoid as much as possible.
“(Aldridge) is hitting some ridiculous shots,” Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said.
During Aldridge’s 46-point explosion in game 1, he made just 3-of-12 mid range shots, the Rockets just couldn’t keep him out of the paint. In game two they adjusted forced him outside only Aldridge was too good.
Even with Aldridge having another monster game, the Rockets had a chance to win and even the series. Houston led by eight after a quarter, and the game was tied at halftime. Dwight Howard scored 25 of the Rockets 53 first half points, but he finished 32, the problem was that nobody else stepped up, most notably James Harden.
Sunday night, Harden missed 20-of-28 shots from the field, and before making his final two attempts on Wednesday missed 13 of his first 17. He is shooting below 30 percent for the series, and with him stuck in the mud, the Rockets offense has simply been off.
“We got to move the ball,” McHale said. “We’ve got to attack. We can’t hold it. We’ve got to set better picks. We’ve gotta have more flow and more side-to-side. We’ve had 16 assists in the lat two games. We really haven’t moved the ball well.”
The last part of that statement is key. The ball isn’t moving right now and they aren’t getting the looks they want. Houston made less than 22 percent of its 3-point attempts in the two games at Toyota Center, and only eight of 51 have come from the corners. If the Rockets are going to get this series back to Toyota Center, that has to change.
Despite how it feels, the series isn’t over. Portland still has work to do, and the Rockets have won at the Moda Center this season. At this point, Harden and the offense can only get better. Defensively, the Rockets were better in game two, and had a good plan against one of the league’s best players, but when great players play great sometimes all you can do is tip your cap and wish them luck in the next round.
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