Blazers guard Mo Williams cried foul Friday night about the biggest play of the game at Moda Center.
In a desperate battle for a loose ball late in overtime, I thought I was tripped and that was obvious, but it wasnt called, Williams said.
Houston wound up with the ball, and Rockets guard Troy Daniels abruptly sank a 3-pointer that broke a 116-116 tie. Portland forward Nicholas Batum then missed a 3-pointer, Houston guard James Harden made a pair of free throws, and the Rockets won 121-116.
The scramble for that loose ball was the thread that unraveled the Blazers' chance of victory, Williams said, in Portland's first NBA playoff home game in three years.
It was the deciding factor" he said. "We get the rebound, we get the foul, we get the final shot. Its that simple.
Seconds before, Batum had poked the ball away from Harden. But the Rockets managed to come away with a win that narrowed Portland's first-round playoff series lead to 2-1.
What can you do?" Batum said, of Daniels' big basket. "He made the shot, so you have to move on.
If it wasnt for Williams, the Blazers likely wouldnt have even sniffed overtime. With Portland down 92-82 and 9:12 left in regulation, Williams went on a 10-point barrage that included a four-point play and some pull-up, midrange jumpers. Then, his assist to power forward LaMarcus Aldridge cut the Rockets' lead to three.
Williams finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in a season-high 36 minutes.
Despite being the most battle-tested Blazer in Game 3, the 31-year-old backup said he didnt feel a since of urgency to go on a scoring tear. It happened naturally, he said.
"I didnt feel I needed to step up, but the opportunity was there, said Williams, who is in his 11th NBA season. Just like anybody else, you have to step up when your opportunity is there.
Williams has had his share of other playoff misery. In 2009 and 2010, playing alongside LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in the Eastern Conference finals despite having posted the best regular-season record in the league.
Williams pointed Friday night to another playoff series for perspective. In 2012, he and the Los Angeles Clippers were sitting pretty, up 3-1 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
They got two in a row," Williams said, "so I know how important it is to not let games get by, and (Game 4) Sunday is a big game for us.
The 2012 Clippers must have gotten the wake-up call they needed, because they clawed to a Game 7 victory at Memphis. And Williams said that now that the pressure has switched to the Blazers' locker room, his team will have a different energy on Sunday.
We have that urgency now," he said. "We were up 2-0 and thought we had a cushion, and I think we came out that way.
We have to treat (Game 4) like a must win.