HOUSTON – Jeremy Lin was so unhappy with his performance in Houston’s Game 4 loss to Portland that he hardly slept at all after the game.
Lin should sleep like a baby after his work in Game 5.
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Lin came off the bench to score 21 points and help the Rockets beat the Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night to avoid elimination.
“I just tried to be aggressive,” said Lin, who had four points and three turnovers in Sunday’s overtime loss. “I felt like I needed to be a spark for the team.”
The Trail Blazers lead the first-round series 3-2 entering Game 6 on Friday in Portland.
A basket by Damian Lillard got the Trail Blazers within two points before James Harden stepped back and swished a 3-pointer to make it 103-98 with about three minutes left. The shot brought the crowd, which was clad almost completely in red shirts emblazoned with the words “Clutch City” on them, to its feet.
That started an 8-0 Houston run to close it out. Harden finished with 17 points and seven assists.
“I really hadn’t (done) anything the first two quarters, so it was time for me to step up and make plays,” Harden said.
Houston finally slowed down LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting him to eight points, after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Lillard added 26.
“We had opportunities to make shots, but we didn’t make certain shots that we needed,” Aldridge said. “We didn’t get the big stops that we needed. They played well down the stretch and we didn’t.”
Lin got extended minutes on Wednesday night with Pat Beverley dealing with a 38.3 fever. Beverley had five points in 21 minutes.
The Trail Blazers said the two shots Lin hit as the shot clock expired were deflating.
“He threw up some crazy shots,” Lillard said. “That’s when you know a guy is having a good night. They would put one up at the end of so many good defensive possessions, and it’s going in. That let you know what kind of night it was.”
The Rockets led by as many as 17 points in the first half. Portland cut it to one point three times in the fourth quarter, but never went back on top.
Terrence Jones added a basket for Houston after the big 3 by Harden before Howard got after Aldridge on the other end. He blocked his short jump shot, sending it out of bounds. Portland got the ball back and Aldridge got the ball again, but he badly missed a shot with Howard in his face as the shot clock expired, leaving Aldridge yelling for a foul.
The Rockets were up by nine early in the fourth quarter after four quick points from Lin before Portland used an 8-0 run, with the first four points from Nicolas Batum, to cut the lead to 91-90 with 7:39 remaining.
Matthews had 18 of Portland’s 29 points in the third. Howard and Lin combined for 18, including Lin’s long two as the shot clock expired with Lillard right in his face. Lin finished off the quarter with a three-point play to make it 82-77 entering the fourth.
Aldridge had just six points at halftime after sitting out about half of the first quarter after getting his second foul. Spurs 109, Mavericks 103
In San Antonio, Tony Parker had 23 points hours after the birth of his first child and the Spurs never trailed in a victory over Dallas, taking a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.
Manu Ginobili had 19 points and Tiago Splitter added 17 points and 12 rebounds as San Antonio regained home-court advantage. Tim Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for the Spurs.
Vince Carter scored 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the field for the Mavericks. After averaging 16 points in the series’ first four games, Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting.
Carter’s 3-pointer with 3 minutes left pulled the Mavs within 98-94 but Parker followed a minute later with his only 3-pointer of the game.
Parker played on little sleep following the early morning birth of his son, Josh, with fiancee Axelle Francine. Raptors 115, Nets 113
In Toronto, Kyle Lowry scored a career playoff-high 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer after the Raptors had blown a 26-point lead, and Toronto took a 3-2 lead in its first-round series.
DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 and Greivis Vasquez added 15 for the Raptors, who would advance to face Miami in the second round with a victory in Game 6 on Friday in Brooklyn.
Joe Johnson scored 30 points and Mirza Teletovic had 17 for the Nets, who scored 44 points in the fourth quarter but lost their final chance when Andray Blatche fired a pass well over Deron Williams’ head into the backcourt for a turnover.
Toronto led 94-72 on a 3-pointer by Vasquez with 11:23 remaining, but Brooklyn scored 15 of the next 18 points, including a four-point play by Alan Anderson, to make it 97-87 with 7:15 remaining.
Johnson later converted a three-point play, then made a 3 to tie it 101-101 with 3:16 left.