Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever

Dwight Jaynes

When the Trail Blazers broke out that diamond-and-one defense Wednesday night in Houston, it jogged my memory.

And it took a while to remember where I'd last seen that defense,

I had a nagging thought that it had to do with Houston. And it did. But it was way back to the "Game of the Century" in 1968 when the Elvin Hayes-led University of Houston Cougars knocked off UCLA 71-69 n the Astrodome, ending a 47-game Bruin win streak. The dome was sold out (52,693) for the game, the first nationally televised, non-NCAA tournament college game. It didn't help UCLA, by the way, that center Lew Alcindor had suffered an eye injury in a previous game and it was troubling him in this one.

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The teams met again in the NCAA tournament semifinals and the Bruins routed the Cougars 101-69. And the key to that win was UCLA's innovative diamond-and-one defense that held Hayes, who was averaging 37.7 points per game, to just 10 points.

Harden came into the game Wednesday night averaging 37.8 points per game and was held to 13 by the Portland diamond.

"We used the diamond-and-one on dead-ball situations (after turnovers, after timeouts, backcourt out of bounds)," Stotts said Thursday in an email. "Once Harden gave it up, we were in man to man (four on four) and face-guarded Harden.

"Other times, we would just go double-team him and get the ball out of his hands. We did not stay in the diamond once Harden gave it up. Brooklyn and Toronto used versions of it (they lost those games) and we tweaked it."

Stotts remembers the "Game of the Century" but didn't remember the diamond and one in the rematch.

"Black and white TV," he said. "The Game of the Century."

Wednesday's win at Houston wasn't in the realm of the game of the century -- but for the Trail Blazers, it was probably the game of the year, so far.

Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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