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Ailing Blazers Live to Play Another Day

Apr 29, 2009 – 4:15 AM
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Matt Watson

Matt Watson %BloggerTitle%

Brandon RoyThe Trail Blazers can't win against the Rockets without big games from Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge -- and sometimes even that's not enough. So when you consider the fact that Roy entered Game 5 on Tuesday completely flu-stricken and Aldridge hadn't even attempted a shot in practice for two days because of a swollen elbow, it'd be understandable if you predicted the game wouldn't even be close.

As it turns out, it wasn't -- but instead of Houston closing the door, it was the Blazers who pulled away in the final quarter, winning 88-77. How did they do it? Roy and Aldridge, of course; the duo each scored 25 points, defying their respective ailments to help the Blazers stave off elimination for at least one more night.
Trail Blazers 88, Rockets 77: Recap | Box Score

The Blazers actually controlled this game from the very beginning, jumping out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never trailing again until the fourth quarter. When the Rockets threatened to turn the tables with a four-point lead, the Blazers turned on the jets with a 15-0 run, followed by another 8-0 a few minutes later.

Roy scored 14 of his points in the final nine minutes and after the game credited Steve Blake for helping set the tone. From Jason Quick:
"It's now or never," Blake said with the Blazers trailing 68-64 in the fourth quarter.

[...] That's when Blake emerged from the huddle, walked onto the court and did a U-turn to face his teammates. Standing near midcourt, he delivered his succinct yet pointed message.

[...] "It wasn't any secret," Roy said. "But as soon as he said it, I walked away and I was like, 'It is now or never.' And I decided I was going to do whatever I can to get this win. It was like 'Let's go do it.'"
Something else worth mentioning is the free-throw disparity: the Trail Blazers had 23 attempts from the line; the Rockets, just 10. This reverses the trend from the first four games.

It may have come at a cost -- Nate McMillan (and Rick Adelman, too, for that matter) was fined $25,000 for comments directed at the officiating -- but if the end result was making the refs self-conscious about calls going against the Blazers, it was money well spent.
Filed under: Sports