Trail Blazers Split Texas Portion Of Trip With Loss To Rockets

by Casey Holdahl
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HOUSTON -- Friday night in San Antonio, the Trail Blazers rallied from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to start a six-game trip off with a win.

There would be no such comeback in their second game in Texas in the last three days.

The Trail Blazers, after taking a one-point lead into the second quarter, went down by as many as 24 points in the second half on the way to a 132-108 loss to the Houston Rockets in front of an announced sellout of 18,055 Monday night at the Toyota Center.

“It was a tough game, they’re a really good team," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "They kind of did what they usually do. They shot threes. Harden scored. Westbrook had a triple-double. They got out in transition. The thing that was probably the most disappointing was their offensive rebounding and how well they converted their offensive rebounds into points. I thought that was kind of the difference in the first half. We just couldn’t cut into their lead."

Portland is now 5-9 overall and 4-5 on the road this season.

Though they stumbled at times in the first quarter -- CJ McCollum was the only Trail Blazer to make a field goal attempt in the first seven minutes of the game -- Portland was able to make just enough plays to stick around. And a 13-3 run in the final 3:48 of the quarter actually resulting in the Trail Blazers taking a 30-29 advantage into the second quarter.

But the game wouldn't stay all that competitive for long. The Rockets took their first double-digit lead of the game on a James Harden three-pointer with 4:06 to play in the half, and push that advantage to 14 by the halftime intermission.

Houston started the second half by outscoring Portland 8-2 to expand their lead to 20 early in the third quarter.

“It got away from us very early," said McCollum. "We were down double digits in the second quarter, and we were down 14 at halftime. The third quarter, they got out and ran and got and-ones and hit threes, and they did whatever they wanted to. They made it kind of difficult for us to get back."

The Rockets kept the Blazers at that general distance for the remainder of the night and took a 99-76 lead into the fourth. At that point, all that was left to be decided was how soon Terry Stotts would pull the likes of Lillard and McCollum with the second game of a back-to-back waiting the next night in New Orleans.

“I think at every point in the season you come across teams, and some teams are playing well, some teams are not playing so well. That’s how every season is," said Lillard. "I think right now they’re just in a stretch where they’re playing really well, and we’re still finding our way. They played their game and did a lot of things that they wanted to do, and we didn’t take a whole lot away from them. That was the story of the game."

Seven Blazers finished in double figures led by McCollum, who went 10-of-19 from the field for 25 points to go with five rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes.

Skal Labissiere scored 15 points off the bench while also grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots in 20 minutes.

Nassir Little, Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore all finished with 11 points. Little, in the third start of his young career, also tallied seven Reb sounds, two assists and a steal before fouling out in 29 minutes.

James Harden led all scorers with 36 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, 5-of-10 shooting from three and 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line.

“He did what he normally does," said Rodney Hood. "He wasn’t as aggressive as he usually is and has been in the past couple of games, but he got everybody else involved, which I think is why they got clicking."

Russell Westbrook checked out of the game right after grabbing a late rebound to secure a 28-point, 10-assist, 10-rebound triple-double in 33 minuets. Clint Capela went for 22 points and 20 rebounds in 35 minutes.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head to the "Big Easy" for the second night of a road back-to-back versus the Pelicans. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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