Trail Blazers End Winless Homestand With Tough Loss To Rockets
The Portland Trail Blazers finished out a four-game homestand by losing 124-117 to the Houston Rockets in front of a sellout crowd of 19,503 Saturday night at the Moda Center. Portland is now 13-12 overall and 7-8 at home this season.
The Trail Blazers led by 14 points at the end of the third quarter, but with Damian Lillard on the bench nursing an ankle/foot injury, the Rockets outscored Portland 26-11 in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter to take a 110-109 lead.
Houston would retain the lead for the remainder of the game, ultimately outscoring Portland by 21 in the fourth quarter to come away with their ninth-straight victory while also handing the Trail Blazers their fourth-straight loss.
"It's disappointing to lose," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "They're the best team in the league right now and we competed and came up short, but we had a lot of good efforts from a lot of different players. That was very encouraging. After the last three games, it's good to be in a game at the end against a really good team, and like I said, we just came up short."
The Trail Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, who tied the franchise record with nine three-pointers Saturday night to finish with 35 points on 11of-23 shooting, six assists and four rebounds in 38 minutes. CJ McCollum added 28 poingts on 11-of-21 shooting while Al-Farouq Aminu added 15.
As for the Rockets, they were led by 48 points on 16-of-29 shooting from James Harden. Harden's 48 points are the second-most scored by a Trail Blazers opponent at the Moda Center in franchise history.
LIVE BY THE THREE
The 2017-18 Houston Rockets are one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in NBA history, averaging 44.0 attempts per game. But it was the Trail Blazers, no slouches in terms of their willingness to rise up from deep, that made the three ball work for them in the first half.
Portland made a season-high nine three-pointers in the first half, thanks in large part to 6-of-10 shooting from Damian Lillard, who went 3-of-3 from three to start the game. Al-Farouq Aminu, CJ McCollum and Zach Collins also connected from deep in the first half.
Portland would finish with 18 three-pointers, their most this season, on 41 attempts. The Rockets would shoot far fewer than their average, getting up "just" 25 three, 10 of which they made.
STARTING OVER AGAIN
With Jusuf Nurkić missing his first game of the season due to a sprained right ankle and Maurice Harkless also sitting out with a quad contusion, there was no question that the Trail Blazers would run out their sixth different starting lineup of the season Saturday night. But which players Terry Stotts would ultimately look to was very much up for debate.
But few participating in that debate would have guessed that Stotts would go with Evan Turner at forward and Meyers Leonard at center. Turner would finish with four points, four rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes, while Leonard would have one of his strongest performances in recent memory with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, four rebounds rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes.
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, SET IT FREE (THROW)
The Portland Trail Blazers made five more shots from the field and eight more three-pointers than the Rockets Saturday night, which is usually a recipe for success. But Houston devistated Portland at the free throw line by making 38 of 42 attempts, which was 30 more than the Trail Blazers attempted. James Harden earned 14 free throw attempts while Chris Paul ended with 10.
"I don't know how many free throws they shot," said Damian Lillard. "It seemed like every time... that's a lot of free throws. You've got to be able to do something when you're dealing with players like that and they're doing all this tricky stuff. Some was fouls, and some I didn't think was fouls."
THEY SAID IT
"It was good to get the offense back on track, I thought we had a very good effort. Obviously the fourth quarter got away from us, turnovers to start the fourth quarter. Kind of devolved into a one-on-one game, which is not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but that's what it ended up being." -- Terry Stotts
“I’m definitely not into moral victories, but I think if we had that type of effort against any of the previous three teams, we might have finished this home stand 3 and 1. I think we all understand that you go through adversity in the NBA season, but it’s how you come out of it. I think this was definitely a few steps in the right direction. We played with a great rhythm offensively. I thought we competed really hard. We showed some care. We had some assertiveness to us. We lost a close game to the best team in the league right now, the best team in the Western Conference.” -- Damian Lillard
•The Trail Blazers set a season high with 18three-pointers, breaking the previous mark of 14 (three times, last 11/15 vs. ORL). The franchise record is 21.
•Portland’s 98 points through three quarters tied a season high (10/18 at PHX).•The Trail Blazers extended their season-long losing streak to four games.
•Houston’s 40 points in the fourth quarter is the most by an opponent in any quarter this season.
•Portland’s 62 first half points matched the second-most of the season (66, 11/2 vs. LAL).
•The Rockets’42 free throw attempts marked a new season high and were the most by a Trail Blazers opponent this season.
Usually teams dread heading out for an extended road trip, but considering they just went 0-4 on a four-game homestand, perhaps the Trail Blazers won't mind a change of scenery. Then again, they start a five-game trip Monday night versus the reigning NBA championship Golden State Warriors, so perhaps they shouldn't get too excited. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.