The Night When All The Stars Aligned
Over the last few years, the quest to see the stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow has been a stressful yet thrilling task. On this particular night, all the stars aligned and greatness was personified. The Championship driven Rockets were facing a red hot Portland Trail Blazers team who were winners of three straight. The Rockets were also missing their MVP candidate James Harden but they still had the indelible Chris Paul in uniform.
Chris Paul came into game needing 5 points to reach the 16,000 points plateau and many expected him to achieve that milestone with the absence of James Harden. What many didn’t expect was a 37 point performance that was too much for the Trail Blazers to overcome. Paul may be in his 13th season and 32 years old but he hasn’t slowed down as he continues to be one of the best point guards in basketball.
The match-up for the night placed the future hall of famer against one of the leagues premiere point guards Damian Lillard. Both teams struggled from the field to open the game but the Rockets were able to push ahead behind the shooting of Eric Gordon. Portland fought back to tie the game late in the first quarter until Chris Paul spearheaded a 6-0 run to close the quarter.
To open the second quarter, the Blazers continued to struggle from the field as the Rockets pushed their lead to 10. Portland was able to battle the lead back down to six before the Rockets caught a second wind and extended their lead to 14 during the quarter. With a late Blazers surge lead by Napier and McCollum, the Rockets ended the half up by 10.
The second half produced a new Blazers team as they came out gunning to start the period. Damian Lillard and Evan Turner lead a run that trimmed down the Rockets lead to five points. Although the Blazers were on a hot streak, there was no answer for Chris Paul and Eric Gordon as they scored 23 of the teams 31 third quarter points.
The fourth quarter brought all of the nights stars to the forefront. During the closing period, Lillard, McCollum and Turner scored 26 of the Blazers 35 points. For the Rockets, all 35 of their points were scored by Paul, Gordon, Capela and Gerald Green. Portland got the deficit down to three but the Rockets were able to fend off the comeback attempt and close out the game with a nine point victory.
The Star of the Night
The player that I have been chasing for several seasons was the brightest star of the night. Chris Paul put on a basketball exhibition as he logged 37 points, 11 assist and 7 rebounds. He found his spots on the floor and exploited every weakness the Blazers presented. The opportunity to see the future hall of fame Point Gawd was a pleasure as he did not disappoint in this game.