Jamal Crawford and Gerald Wallace did their best to carry the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Wednesday night, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the ineffectiveness of an ailing LaMarcus Aldridge.
I know I've been on about this for a while now, but Wednesday's game was yet another example of why Aldridge deserves to be an All-Star this year (reserves will be announced on Thursday). Because battling an illness and feeling fatigued, Aldridge managed just 13 points against the Houston Rockets, and the Blazers lost for the second consecutive game at home, falling 103-96.
Don't even try to tell me that a healthy, energetic Aldridge wouldn't have been enough to get the Blazers a "W" against the Rockets on Wednesday. Further proof that his value to this team simply can't be overstated, and even though he battled it out for 39 minutes, the 13 points and five rebounds were not up to par with his typical performances this season (he came into the game averaging 23.7 points and 8.6 boards).
Credit Wallace and Crawford for trying to pick up the slack against Houston, with Crawford putting up a team-best 21 points off the bench and Wallace going for 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Blazers simply couldn't overcome the relatively quiet performance from Aldridge or the outstanding night from the Rockets' bench, which outscored Portland's 66-37.
Five of Houston's six reserves who saw playing time Wednesday scored in double-figures, led by Chase Budinger's 22 points. Courtney Lee (16 points), Patrick Patterson (11) and Goran Dragic (10) also reached double-figures for Houston, which handed the Blazers a rare loss at home. Portland has lost only three times at the Rose Garden this season, but two of those have come in this past week, starting with an overtime heartbreaker against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. A bad goaltending call on what was clearly a clean block by Aldridge with 6 seconds left in regulation gave Kevin Durant a basket and tied the score at 103. The NBA acknowledged on Tuesday that the referees had made the wrong call.
The Blazers didn't think the tough loss had carried over to Wednesday's game, but Crawford acknowledged that they might have been feeling a bit of a hangover from the defeat.
"You hope that emotional games don't have lingering effects," Crawford said on Wednesday. "We'll have to figure that out."