James Harden was struggling — 3 for 12 and no points in the second half — as the game entered its final stages.
Game Five was following the similar pattern of the previous four games of this series. The Rockets raced out to the lead, and then slowly watched it crumble eventually succumbing to defeat and the Trail Blazers’ poise and big shot-making. That did not quite happen this time around. Houston’s struggling All-Star guard finished the game off this time.
James Harden snapped out of his funk in the nick of time, hitting a reverse layup that gave the Rockets a four-point lead and snapped him from his funk. He drained a 3-pointer on the next possession and all seemed right in the world. Harden scored 17 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Those five points helped give the Rockets some breathing room and 108-98 win to extend the series back to Portland.
The Rockets were a rag-tag bunch tonight with Patrick Beverley nursing a high fever and Dwight Howard facing foul trouble. Chandler Parsons and his 20 points (8-for-22 shooting) and Howard’s 22 points helped the Rockets build a first-half lead.
The Blazers though have always been able to fight back in this series. Welsey Matthews scored 18 of his 27 points in the third quarter to help bring Portland back into the game. Damian Lillard also had 26 points for the Trail Blazers.
But when the game got tight at the end, Portland did not have the magic formula that the team had the last few games against Houston. The open shots did not fall. There were turnovers. There was a general lack of execution or that little bit necessary to score.
The Blazers have a little bit of a cushion though. Friday is their second chance to close this series out.