NBA playoffs: Aldridge fires Blazers past Rockets


HOUSTON — LaMarcus Aldridge scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points and Damian Lillard added 31, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 122-120 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Aldridge fouled out with about a minute left in overtime and Lillard, who was making his playoff debut, took over. He scored the next five points for Portland and put the Trail Blazers on top by one point with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left. Joel Freeland made one of two free throws seconds later to give the Blazers the win in their first trip to the postseason since 2011.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.

Aldridge, who was playing in his home state, also had 18 rebounds and two blocks. James Harden and Dwight Howard each scored 27 points for Houston, and Howard grabbed 15 rebounds.

Houston could have tied it, but Harden missed a short jump shot at the buzzer. He had missed a 3-pointer on Houston’s second-to-last possession.

It was a physical game with the teams combining for 79 free throws.

A three-point play by Lillard gave Portland a one-point lead with 44.5 seconds remaining. Francisco Garcia and Howard both made one of two free throws after that to give Houston a 120-119 lead 20 seconds later.

Aldridge fouled out when he knocked Patrick Beverley to the floor setting a pick with 1:04 left in overtime. An emotional Aldridge continued to yell at the referees even after he went to the bench.

A dunk by Robin Lopez gave Portland a 116-114 lead before he fouled out seconds later. Howard made both free throws to tie it.

Houston scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter with the first four from Howard to make it 86-73. But Portland used a 10-0 run, with the help of the Hack-A-Howard defense of intentionally fouling the center, to tie it at 98 with 2:46 remaining. Howard missed four straight free throws as Portland cut the deficit.

A 3-pointer by Lillard had tied it at 104-all before Harden put Houston up with two free throws. Aldridge’s tip-in with 2.9 seconds left tied it at 106. Houston had a chance to win it in regulation, but Harden’s shot was off.

Howard and Jeremy Lin both made three-point plays to start overtime before Aldridge and Nicolas Batum hit consecutive 3s to tie it back up.

Houston led to 79-73 entering the fourth quarter.

Portland trailed by 11 when it used a 9-2 spurt to get within 73-69 with about two minutes left in the third quarter. Aldridge started the run with four points and Wesley Matthews finished it off by scoring the last five and capping it with dunk on a fast break.

WIZARDS 102, BULLS 93

CHICAGO — Nene dominated with 24 points, Trevor Ariza scored 18, and Washington rallied from 13 down to beat Chicago in its playoff opener.

John Wall scored 16 in his postseason debut. Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the fifth-seeded Wizards pulled out the victory even though they looked like they were ready to be blown out.

They cut a 13-point deficit to one in the third and trailed by three going into the fourth, before outscoring Chicago 18-6 over the final six minutes to come out on top in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

HEAT 99, BOBCATS 88

MIAMI — LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade added 23 and Miami used a late charge to beat Charlotte in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

Chris Bosh scored 13 points and James Jones had 12 for the Heat. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday.

Kemba Walker scored 20 points for the Bobcats, who led by nine early and led again in the third. Al Jefferson missed eight of his final 13 shots after getting hurt in the first quarter. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bobcats, who got 17 from Gary Neal and 15 from Josh McRoberts.

SPURS 90, MAVERICKS 85

SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan scored 27 points, and San Antonio held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to win Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5½ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming as time expired.

Tony Parker had 21 points, and Manu Ginobili added 17. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tiago Splitter pulled down 11 rebounds for top-seeded San Antonio, which has won 10 straight against Dallas.

By wire sources