The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets blew all of a 17 point lead in the final 3 minutes and 50 seconds; but, Chris Paul saved the day with a shot off the glass with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Rockets a bizarre 96-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night.
Chris Paul had a game-high 27 points, including the game-winner with 0.8 seconds remaining. The Rockets improve to 22-2 when he scores 20+ points this season.
"I think that’s a benefit of being on a team like this," Chris Paul said after the game. "James (Harden) can take it, I can take it, you got other guys. I mean Gerald (Green) can hit a few, E.G. (Eric Gordon), you know what I mean. You got to make a choice."
The Rockets scored 30 points in the second half.
18 points in the third quarter.
12 points in the fourth quarter.
The Rockets led the Blazers 94-77 with 3:57 on the game clock.
Portland scored 17 unanswered points to tie the game with 6.1 seconds remaining.
"I was pleased with the way we finished the game," said Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts. "Those guys at the end worked their asses off. They played hard, were aggressive defensively. I was really impressed and it was too bad we couldn’t go to overtime or win it, but I was really proud of the way they played."
The Blazers made the 17-0 run with a line up of Caleb Swanigan, Pat Connaughton, Georgios Papagiannis, Jake Layman, and Wade Baldwin IV.
"Obviously when I put the guys in, I wasn’t expecting a comeback," Stotts continued. "I was resting my guys, but they made a helluva comeback."
Houston (64-15) turned over the ball 4 times in the final 3:14 -- including three times in a 65 second span in the final 99 seconds of the game.
The Rockets missed all 14 three point attempts in the second half and made only 11 of 33 field goal attempts in the second half.
Despite all those dreadful numbers, the Rockets eked out the win and have won 20 consecutive games at home which ties for the longest single season home winning streak in franchise history.
"Somebody asked me before the game ‘can you just turn a switch on at all?’," Mike D'Antoni said during his postgame press conference. "Maybe it was from a radio interview. No, you can’t, we had the switch off, we tried to turn it back on. We couldn’t do it, just human nature took over. We played well for a long time and then we just kind of loss the thread a little bit. It happens, but I thought the first half was great. We just lost our intensity; defense was good. Offensively, we just had a lot of open shots, guys just didn’t hit them, didn’t knock them down, and finish the game out."
Houston is the 24th team in NBA history to have won at least 64 games in a single season and the 11th dating back to 2000-01.
"That’s what it’s about," James Harden said. "I think at the end of the day when you look at it, you look at the wins and losses. So, just keep in that win column and everything is good. Of course we will look at the film and see how we can get better and look at the things that we didn’t do as well as we needed to and that’s always plus. But as far as the game itself, winning is the most important thing."
Harden scored 24 points on 7-of-13 shooting tonight. The 13 shot attempts tie for his fewest this season. Over the past two games, Harden is shooting 61.3% from the floor and 57.1% from 3-point range after shooting 37.4% from the floor and 15.0% from behind-the-arc his previous five games played.
The Rockets wrap the home portion of its 2017-'18 regular season this Saturday, April 7, against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Special tip-off time of 7:30 p.m.