Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets Preview
November 5, 2013
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
The Portland Trail Blazers are displaying impressive scoring depth, and they've been particularly effective from beyond the arc.
The Trail Blazers look to build on their best offensive showing of the young season when they go for their third straight victory Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets.
Portland (2-1) is shooting 46.0 percent from the floor, including 44.1 from 3-point range, and is scoring 106.3 points per game - nearly nine more than last season. Part of the team's offensive success can be attributed to four players averaging double digits.
That depth was on display Saturday with six players putting up at least 11 points and the team shooting 55.6 percent in a 115-105 victory over San Antonio. Portland went 8 for 20 from long range and had 29 assists.
Damian Lillard led the way with 25 points to go with seven rebounds and as many assists.
"We have a lot of guys that can score," said guard Wesley Matthews, who scored 20. "We move the ball well and that's got to be our thing.
"On any given night, someone can go off for a big night, but for the most part, for us to stay consistent, for us to continue to win and build wins on top of wins, we have to have that."
Lillard is averaging 25.0 points while making half of his 24 attempts from beyond the arc, and LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be a force in the front court, pouring in 25.7 points per game with 6.7 rebounds.
He had 29.8 points and 10.3 boards while the Blazers and Rockets (3-1) split four meetings last season. However, his 32 points and 13 rebounds weren't enough in a 116-98 home loss to Houston on April 5.
Fellow forward Nicolas Batum missed that matchup with a sore shoulder after averaging 29.5 points over the previous two meetings. He's coming off his third career triple-double, scoring 11 points with 12 boards and 11 assists Saturday.
The Rockets are trying to conclude this three-game set above .500 after falling 137-118 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
James Harden will be looking for a bounce-back performance after mustering a season-low 15 points and missing all seven of his attempts from 3-point range. The star guard was averaging 26.0 points on 52.1 percent shooting through the first three games.
Facing the Blazers may be just what he needs to get untracked.
Harden averaged 30.3 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds while making 11 of 24 3s against them last season. He had 33 points in the most recent visit to Portland in April.
Dwight Howard has averaged 21.0 points and 14.1 boards over his last eight meetings with the Blazers, and the Rockets could surely use that type of production. The All-Star center matched his season lows with 13 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers, getting in early foul trouble with three in the opening quarter.
A strong performance is just what Howard needs ahead of his first matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers - his former team - on Thursday.
"There's no need to talk about what the Lakers could have done. I made my decision and I'm living with it," he said. "I'm happy where I'm at, I'm in a great place. Everybody should move forward. It's over with."