HOUSTON — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland on Friday night.
“(Leading) 2-0 going home feels great, but it’s not over,” he said. “We’re going to stay hungry, stay humble and go home and try to duplicate the same (success).”
Aldridge became the first player with consecutive games of 43 points in the playoffs since Tracy McGrady did it in April 2003 after scoring a career-high and franchise-playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1. He’s also the first player in Trail Blazers history to have two 40-point games in the postseason and his 89 points in a team’s first two playoff games trail only Michael Jordan (1986, 1988) and Jerry West (1965) in the past 50 years.
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He’s helped the Trail Blazers win two road games to start a playoff series for just the second time in franchise history and the first since they took the first two against the Lakers in the 1977 Western Conference Finals.
Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to help out in the win. But the guard gave all the credit for the win to Aldridge.
“What can they do to stop him? He was great once again, just like Game 1,” Lillard said. “When a lot of guys couldn’t get going and couldn’t hit shots, he just carried us. He played like an MVP again.”
The Rockets spent the last two days of practice focused on Aldridge.
“We tried changing it up tonight,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “… We were trying to get the ball out of his hands as much as we could.”
Mavericks 113, at Spurs 92
Monta Ellis scored 21 points as Dallas snapped a 10-game skid against San Antonio and evened its first-round series at a game apiece.
Shawn Marion scored 20 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 16, Devin Harris had 18 and Jose Calderon 12 for Dallas, which never trailed after the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Manu Ginobili had 27 points, Tony Parker added 12 and Tim Duncan 11 for the Spurs.
Dallas didn’t relent in Game 2 after blowing a 10-point lead in the final eight minutes of the series opener. San Antonio’s ineptness had as much to do with tying the series, however. The Spurs finished with 22 turnovers, which resulted in 33 points for the Mavericks. San Antonio also made only 18 of 29 free throws.
At Heat 101, Bobcats 97
LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and Miami held on to beat Charlotte to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points and had a steal in the final seconds to help seal the win for Miami. Mario Chalmers added 11 for the Heat.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte. The Bobcats got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23 from the floor. Kemba Walker added 16 for the Bobcats.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Charlotte.
• New York Knicks president Phil Jackson said he won’t be hiring himself to coach the team. Two days after firing Mike Woodson, Jackson reiterated he won’t be returning to the bench.
• Goran Dragic, whose breakout season helped the Phoenix Suns make a remarkable transformation, was named the NBA’s most improved player.