Fourth Quarter Run Burns Blazers
The Houston Rockets shot 49% from the field on Tuesday night and defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 111 – 103 in the Toyota Center. The Rockets were led by the triple-double of Chris Paul who scored 11 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists while James Harden put up 29 points in 32 minutes of action. Damian Lillard scored 34 points and CJ McCollum added 22 but the Blazer bench only contributed 13 points which won’t cut it most nights and certainly not against a Houston team with a deep bench who scored 37.
The first eight minutes of the game looked like a Blazers blow out as Portland led 27 – 12 with four minutes remaining in the first quarter, but Houston went on a run and ended the quarter only down two. The game continued to go back and forth and stayed close until a huge run by the Rockets at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter. With 6:48 left in the game, Houston led by 17 points and Portland never fully recovered even after cutting it to 5 late in the game. Portland now drops to 15 – 12, only three games above a .500 record. With such a close Western Conference every win against the West means something and it’s never too early to start looking at potential playoff positioning. The Blazers are currently in 8th place just above the Sacramento Kings by one win.
Other contributors for the Trail Blazers were Jusuf Nurkic who logged another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Al-Farouq Aminu had a double-double as well with 10 points and 15 rebounds. As a team we shot 43% from the field but only made 10 of 25 attempted three pointers which was a big factor in the 8 point loss. Moe Harkless continues to look better each game coming back from a knee injury that held him out for the first part of the season and scored 9 points tonight. With a tough schedule on the way the Blazers will need to figure out the issues with the bench in a hurry, but NEVER doubt Rip City, we’ll get the early season magic back. Highlight Moments
• Damian Lillard cuts back-door against the Houston defense and goes up high for an alley-oop layup with 2:54 left in the first quarter. Evan Turner put the ball exactly where it needed to be for Dame to glide it in. • With two seconds left in the second quarter Damian Lillard drives the lane and dishes a quick pass to The Bosnian Beast who gathers himself and lay’s it up off the glass and get’s fouled. Chris Paul made the catch by Nurkic difficult, but Nurk shrugged him off and showed tremendous focus to lay it up. • With 3:09 left in the third quarter, Damian Lillard gets a screen from Jusuf Nurkic causing Nene to switch on to Dame. Seeing the clear mismatch, Lillard immediately attacks Nene and blows by him and jumps to lay it up, Harden comes over to play help defense and Dame amazingly reverses it up with the left hand on the left side of the basket giving the Blazers a one point lead. Who Got Next
Portland travels to Memphis tomorrow night on the second of a back to back to play the Grizzles (15 – 11) who currently own the 6th best record in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies have been one of the surprising teams in the NBA so far this season and are led by Mike Conley and Marc Gasol along with the impressive rookie Jaren Jackson Jr who is scoring 13 points per game and blocking 2 shots each game as well. The Grizzlies are currently on a two game losing streak and 4 – 6 in their last 10 games. The game will be aired on NBC Sports NW at 5:00 PM, and you can also listen in on 620 AM Rip City Radio.