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Blazers pull out another OT win over Rockets

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND -- Overtime victories over the Houston Rockets are getting to be habit for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Nicolas Batum tied his career high with 35 points and rookie Damian Lillard put up 18 of his season-high 27 points after intermission as Portland upended Houston 119-117 in overtime Friday night at the Rose Garden.

It was the second overtime win over the Rockets in two weeks. The Blazers prevailed 95-85 at Houston on Nov. 3.

"We're probably going to be in the same range (in the standings) with them toward the end of the season," said Lillard, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and another five in the extra session. "And they're in the Western Conference like us, so it's important that we win these games."

LaMarcus Aldridge tied his season high with 29 points for the Blazers (4-5), including a turnaround 10-footer with 37 seconds left in overtime that provided a 119-116 lead.

Batum also had four blocked shots, including a spectacular swat of a James Harden drive with 30 seconds left and Portland on top 119-116.

Harden -- who led Houston (4-5) with 29 points -- made the first of two free throws with 1.4 seconds left, then intentionally missed the second. But the ball was batted away as time expired.

Batum almost singlehandedly kept Portland alive in the third quarter, scoring 11 straight points -- including three 3-pointers -- and 14 in the quarter.

"I make one shot, two shots, three shots, and I start to feel it a little bit," said Batum, who finished 13-for-19 from the field, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. "So I just keep shooting."

"Batum just had a phenomenal third quarter," Harden said. "He was making tough shots with a hand in his face."

Houston led through most of the first half and was on top 56-40 just before intermission. A 14-2 Portland run to close the third quarter brought the Blazers to within 79-78 going into the final period, and it was a battle the rest of the way.

"We should have won this game," said Houston forward Chandler Parsons, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. "We feel we should have won a lot of other games (this season). Something has to change to where we can close out games better when we get big leads."

NOTES: Three Blazers scored at least 27 points in a game for the first time since Nov. 14, 1997, when Isaiah Rider had 35, Brian Grant 34 and Arvydas Sabonis 31. ... Portland shot a season-high .512 from the field. ... Houston coach Kevin McHale missed his fifth game as he dealt with a family matter. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson has taken over on an interim basis until McHale's return. ... Houston small forward Carlos Delfino missed the game with a groin injury. ... Houston had a 17-1 first-half advantage in fast-break points. The differential was 24-1 four minutes into the second half. From that point on, the Blazers had an 8-0 edge in the category.
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