That Trail Blazer defense on James Harden? Call it a Twilight Zone

That Trail Blazer defense on James Harden? Call it a Twilight Zone

Where in the world did that defense come from?

Coach Terry Stotts didn’t get specific about it, but the Trail Blazers were different Wednesday night than they’ve been all season. The team that hasn’t defended well, did. Portland held Houston’s James Harden, who came into the game averaging a league-leading 37.8 points per game, to just 13 points on 3-12 shooting on the way to a virtual wire-to-wire 117-107 triumph.

A really good win for us,” Stotts said. “I was proud of how we competed. We did some things defensively… the guys were really locked in on what we did.

“We tried to get the ball out of (Harden’s) hands in different ways. I thought our guys took the challenge of getting the ball out of his hands.”

It appeared the Trail Blazers often used a combination defense, something between a box-and-one and a diamond-and-one, which led to opportunities to double-team Harden many times and just as often led to open three-pointers for other Houston players. But the Rockets made only 16 of 49 three-pointers, with Harden going only 1-6. The league leader at getting to the foul line, Harden was just 6-8 from there and he averages 11 made charity tosses a game.

“We gave him a lot of attention,” Damian Lillard said. “We pretty much decided we were going to live with somebody else beating us and it turned out to be a pretty good game plan. Our coaches came up with a great defensive game plan.”

Houston shot only 39.6 percent from the field as a team.

Hassan Whiteside had 18 rebounds — seven on the offensive end — to lead the Blazers to a 58-50 advantage on the boards. Kent Bazemore had a miserable 3-13 shooting night but had nine rebounds, three assists, a blocked shot, a steal and was in Harden’s face a good part of the game.

This was a terrific team win — the best of the season — as the bench gave quality minutes and the offense resulted in all five starters scoring at least a dozen points.

But it was the defense that won this one. Was it a zone? If so, what kind?

Well, it came from out of nowhere. It was like nothing the Trail Blazers have done all season.

A zone? Yes… call it a Twilight Zone.

That Trail Blazer defense on James Harden? Call it a Twilight Zone originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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January 16, 2020 at 03:45AM

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