Blazers Too Much For Rockets
Aldridge, Batum lead the way as Portland routs Rockets 100-85
HOUSTON -Not all losses are created equal.
Some defeats offer a smorgasbord of lessons which serve as valuable teaching tools for improvement.
Then there are those which are, by and large, better off forgotten and purged from the memory banks as quickly as possible.
For Houston, Sunday night’s matchup with Portland surely fell in the latter category as the Rockets turned a showdown for Western Conference playoff positioning into a no-show, falling flat in a 100-85 defeat at the hands of the Trailblazers.
That Houston was at times overwhelmed by Portland’s size was not a surprise since the Blazers’ twin towers LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby dwarf much of what the Rockets’ roster has to offer right now, and Portland ranks as the NBA’s best team in terms of offensive rebounding.
But what truly doomed Houston was an inability to shoot combined with a slew of second-half turnovers which quickly turned a competitive game into a rout.
The Rockets shot just 41.3 percent from the field Sunday night, including an anemic 4-for-20 effort from behind the 3-point arc. Making matters worse, the turnover bug bit the Rockets in a bad way in the third quarter, when seemingly every Houston miscue led to an easy dunk or layup at the other end.
In all, Portland scored 22 points off the Rockets’ 15 turnovers, several of which occurred while the Blazers were breaking out on a 16-2 run which allowed them to take a comfortable 17-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“We were a step behind all night,” lamented Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman. “They were quicker than we were. It just looked like we weren’t ready to play. They attacked us. It’s the first time we’ve had that kind of effort in awhile.
“We didn’t guard them. We let them pretty much do what they wanted to do. They had 29 assists and I think we had almost as many turnovers as assists. Both ends of the court, we were just a step behind every thing they did.”
Taking full advantage of Rockets’ lapses and lack of length were Aldridge and Camby. The former racked up 25 points and 11 boards in a tidy 33 minutes of action, while Camby stuffed the stat sheet with 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks. The quicksilver Patty Mills added a career-high 14 points, 5 assists and 5 steals for the Blazers off the bench.
If there existed a silver lining to the proceedings in Portland, it had to lie in the opportunity for playing time given to some of Houston’s young talent. With the contest’s outcome largely decided early in the fourth quarter, Terrence Williams saw his first in-game action as a member of the Rockets, finishing with 4 points and 1 rebound in 8 minutes of play. And though he did not collect an assist, he did flash his considerable passing skills with a series of sweet feeds during his time on the floor.
Patrick Patterson, too, put forth a solid showing, building off his tremendous effort on New Year’s Eve, by hauling in double-digit rebounds for the second straight game.
For the most part, however, this was a forgettable evening for the Rockets as they faltered in their attempt to slip past Portland for the West’s No. 8 seed in the playoff race. Fortunately, putting Sunday’s game in the rearview mirror as soon as possible is not only reasonable, it’s also required as the Rockets have no available time for extended reflection with a date with the Denver Nuggets looming in less than 24 hours.
“We haven’t had a game like this in a long time,” said Adelman. “The good thing is we have another one tomorrow in Denver so we’ll have to respond there and try to turn it around and get the effort we’re normally used to seeing.”
We were a step behind all night. They were quicker than we were. It just looked like we weren’t ready to play. They attacked us. It’s the first time we’ve had that kind of effort in awhile.
We didn’t guard them. We let them pretty much do what they wanted to do. They had 29 assists and I think we had almost as many turnovers as assists. Both ends of the court, we were just a step behind every thing they did.
From the very start of the game you could see that we were reacting to everything they did and did not play our game tonight.
We haven’t had a game like this in a long time. The good thing is we have another one tomorrow in Denver so we’ll have to respond there and try to turn it around and get the effort we’re normally used to seeing.
They came out with more aggressiveness and they played with more of a sense of urgency. We should have been playing with that sense of urgency. We can’t do that. We have to go out there and play with a sense of urgency every single night. We’re not 20 games over .500, we’re one game under .500 right now so we have to go out there and play with a sense of urgency every single night.
On how the Trail Blazers won the game:
“They played more aggressive than us tonight. We came out very lax and not aggressive. We didn’t attack the rim like we should have. We played slower than we should have played.”
On the Trail Blazers’ inside presence:
“They’ve got some trees down there, but we couldn’t get enough going inside or outside. It was just a bad shooting night, which is a big reason why we lost.”
BLAZERS HEAD COACH NATE McMILLAN
“I thought we did a good job of executing the game plan. Defensively, nice job of being physical with Houston and disrupting their cuts. Offensively, great ball movement tonight, getting the ball from side to side. 29 assists – that is what you want to see as far as execution.”
On bench play:
“34 points and we need both units to play well. We’ve been saying that all season long. I thought tonight Patty came in, was aggressive, knocked down some shots. Rudy finally got it going and Dante gave us some scoring. So when those guys are scoring, it’s certainly helps. But I thought the defense was good with that group as well, Patty picking up Brooks and not allowing them to get into their transition.”
On Patty Mills:
“I thought he was good. The first half, he was knocking down shots and then defensively, I thought he did a really good job of making Brooks stop, not allowing him to get going. He [Brooks] has been a guy who we have had trouble with keeping him in front of us and stopping him.”
“Defensively, they average 104, 105 points and we held this team to 85 tonight. They can score. They have a lot of shooters, one of the top three point shooting teams in the league. They have an inside presence with Scola and Hill had been playing well for them and we had to defend both. So, yeah, it starts defensively for us.”
“It’s not one thing. I think both ends of the floor – you’ve got to defend and you’ve got to score. Tonight we defended a team that can put up points and we scored. We were pretty consistent, around 22-23 points each quarter and 29 assists so it’s not one thing. The first and the second unit did a good job. Both ends of the floor, we were pretty sharp.”
On play of Camby:
“Rebounding is a big key to the defensive end of the floor. He’s also had to draw the assignment of guarding the best low post player. He’s been doing it all season long. Even the game he got hurt in Utah, he played half the game and had 13 boards. That is huge. We’ve always been a team that needed to rebound better and you know that he is going to go to the boards and control the boards most nights. You can get out into your transition, so he’s a big part, a very important part to our defense as well as our offense. He’s doing a great job of connecting with LaMarcus. They’ve had that working pretty much all season long.”
Feeling out of character shooting an outside jumper:
“It did. I was talking to Brandon about it. I was like, ‘When I had my first open jump shot, it felt kind of weird taking that shot because I was so far out.’ But lately, I’ve been real good down low so I’m going to stay down there.”
On rebounding and getting into transition offense:
“We have to. I think these teams come in here and we have to play fast with Rudy and Patty. So we try to grab the ball off the boards and just push it up.
“Chemistry has gotten better. I think guys are really figuring out their roles. I think now guys are making shots, guys are looking for shots and we’re being more consistent offensively and defensively.”
On points in the paint:
“Just going to the basket, you know. Teamwise, we have to try to get guys in foul trouble, try to get into the penalty early. It worked out for us tonight.”
“I don’t think we ever really lost that confidence. We just went through a tough stretch. We knew once we started working hard again and started playing defense our way, we could win games.”