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Terry Stotts explains why the Blazers are leading Houston 2-0

by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Coach Terry Stotts says the Trail Blazers aren't looking beyond Game 3 against Houston on Friday night.The Portland Trail Blazers came home Thursday afternoon up 2-0 on the Houston Rockets. But coach Terry Stotts said his team is nowhere near satisfied.

“This is the position we wanted to be in,” Stotts said. “We try to temper the good feeling with the fact that we really haven’t accomplished what we want to accomplish.

"We’re in a great position, but we all have a pretty realistic mind-set as far as the job we still have to do.”

The Blazers will play Game 3 Friday night and Game 4 Sunday night at Moda Center, as they try to win their first playoff series in 14 years.

“We don’t approach these two games, we approach Game 3,” Stotts said, on a day in which the Blazers' players weren't available for comment. “That’s the first thing. There’s enough examples out there that just because you come home, that doesn’t guarantee anything.”

The Blazers are where they are in large part because of LaMarcus Aldridge. The power forward has been nothing short of exceptional, scoring 46 and 43 points in Games 1 and 2 at Houston.

“He’s really dialed in,” Stotts said. “He’s playing big. He’s really taken it upon himself to do all these things. Give him all the credit. He’s been wanting this moment for a long time, and he’s rising to this challenge.”

The Blazers have done a very good job keeping Houston’s two stars, guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard, in check.

In Game 1, Harden scored 27 points, but shot just 8 for 28 from the field. In Game 2, Harden scored only 18 points on 6-for-19 shooting.

“We’re trying to keep him away from his left hand a little bit,” Stotts said. “Nic (Batum) and Wes (Matthews), in particular, have really taken the challenge of guarding him and trying not to give him easy baskets.”

The Blazers also have done well keeping Howard from picking up too much of the slack. Howard scored 27 points in Game 1. In the first half of Game 2, Howard was playing out of his mind, scoring 25 points in the first half. But Portland was able to hold Howard to seven points in the second half.

“(Portland center) Robin Lopez has taken the responsibility of guarding him,” Stotts said. “When you’re guarding one of the best centers, that’s always a difficult assignment. Dwight got off to a good start (in Game 2), but he also expended a lot of energy. I don’t know if that fatigued him.

“We still have to be able to guard him straight up at times. LaMarcus did a good job when he was on him, and Robin got a little better rhythm as the game (Wednsday) went on.

"But we have to give him different looks. We doubled him more in the second half, crowded him a little bit better. Against great players, there’s not one thing that works all the time. You have to give them different looks.”