HOUSTON – LaMarcus Aldridge’s son JJ, who turned 5 on Wednesday, texted him after the Portland Trail Blazers’ playoff win and told him he looked like Spider-Man on one of his dunks.
To the Houston Rockets the Portland star probably looked like a superhero on more than just that one play.
Aldridge continued his dominance against the Rockets, scoring 43 points to lift the Trail Blazers to a 112-105 victory 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. The former University of Texas star who grew up in Dallas laughed heartily and said ‘maybe’ when asked if he would rather stay in the Lone Star state after the way he’s played in the first two games.
“(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 games 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 last 50 years.
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 victory 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 how to slow Aldridge down, but nothing they did seemed to faze the 211-cm player.
“We tried changing it up tonight,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “Tonight, he was picking and popping and moving and we were having trouble running people at him. We were trying to get the ball out of his hands as much as we could.”
Aldridge credited coach Terry Stotts for moving him around early in the game to help evade Houston’s double-teams.
“I made tough shots,” Aldridge said. “I don’t think too much was easy tonight. I just got in that rhythm and started making shots.”
James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within 3. Lillard made two free throws before Harden fouled out about 10 seconds later. Mo Williams and Lillard both made a pair of free throws after that to secure the win. Lillard finished with 18 points.
Dwight Howard was unstoppable early and scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half. Heat 101, Bobcats 97
In Miami, LeBron James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat 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.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for the Bobcats, which 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. Mavericks 113, Spurs 92
In San Antonio, Monta Ellis scored 21 points and Dallas rolled past the Spurs, snapping a 10-game skid against San Antonio and evening their 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 the Mavericks, who 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 averaged 14.4 turnovers during the regular season, but had 15 with 3 minutes left in the first half. They finished with 22