National Basketball Association
Preview
Portland at Houston
When: 9:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

LaMarcus Aldridge has quite an act to follow up when the Portland Trail Blazers attempt to take a 2-0 lead when they visit the Houston Rockets in Wednesday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference playoff series. Aldridge put on the best performance in Portland’s playoff history with a franchise-record 46 points to go with 18 rebounds as the Trail Blazers recorded a 122-120 overtime win in the opener. Houston badly needs a win prior to the scene shifting to Portland for Game 3.

The Rockets had no answers for how to slow Aldridge in Game 1 and are focusing on avoiding a repeat occurrence on Wednesday. “We are going to try some different matchups,” center Dwight Howard told reporters. “When I check him, he tries to get me in a lot of pick and rolls so I am probably going to check him for a good part of the game and try to keep him out of the post.” Houston also hopes for a better shooting performance from guard James Harden, who was just 8-of-28 from the field while scoring 27 points in the opener.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT, KGW (Portland), CSN Houston

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS:
While Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard (31 points) were having customary big games, shooting guard Wesley Matthews was the unsung standout. Matthews had 18 points and three steals and was the primary defender on Harden for most of the contest.” I don’t know how much of that was me guarding him and how much him being off, and honestly I don’t care,” Matthews told reporters. “He is a guy who can score and I am going to have to be ready to see him again.”

ABOUT THE ROCKETS:
Point guard Patrick Beverley has been cleared to play after once again injuring his troublesome right knee in the opener. An MRI exam displayed no new damage but the knee remains a concern as Beverley tore the meniscus in late March and rest was the route taken as opposed to season-ending surgery. The feisty Beverley plays with a relentless in-your-face style and insists the knee isn’t an issue moving forward. “I know my body better than anybody else,” Beverley told reporters. “I felt a real stiff little pain toward the area that I hurt before. I was fortunate, though. It healed fast, I guess.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Aldridge is the first NBA player with at least 46 points and 18 rebounds in a road playoff game since Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals.

2. Howard had 27 points and 15 rebounds but his shooting was subpar from both the field (9-of-21) and the free-throw line (9-of-17) in the opener.

3. Portland received just seven points on 2-of-14 shooting from its bench in Game 1.

PREDICTION:
Rockets 118, Trail Blazers 113
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Portland 55-28 W6 31-10 24-18 2-1 53-27 13-3 32-21
Houston 54-29 L2 33-9 21-20 0-4 54-25 11-5 31-22
Last Meeting
Portland Houston
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
4/20/14 POR 122 HOU 120 122 54 43.3 120 59 41.0
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Portland L. Aldridge 46 54.8 10
Houston J. Harden 27 28.6 8
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Portland L. Aldridge 18 7 11
Houston D. Howard 15 6 9
Assists Player  
Portland D. Lillard 5
Houston J. Harden 6
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Portland D. Lillard 1868 42.5 419
Houston J. Harden 2009 45.5 618
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Portland L. Aldridge 814 178 636
Houston D. Howard 945 253 692
Assists Player  
Portland D. Lillard 488
Houston J. Harden 479
Quickchart Matchup
Portland Off vs  Houston Defense
106.9 Points For
103.3 Points Against
44.9 FG%
44.3 FG%
46.5 Reb
41.8 Reb
Houston Off vs  Portland Defense
107.8 Points For
103.0 Points Against
47.1 FG%
45.0 FG%
41.8 Reb
43.7 Reb