25-25
103 -
Team 1 2 3 4
POR 28 25 27 23
HOU 34 28 33 23
118
28-24

Trail Blazers-Rockets Preview

The Associated Press

One night after putting on a remarkable shooting display, the Houston Rockets came up short against the defending champions their last time out.

Getting back on track could prove difficult against a Portland Trail Blazers team that's had their number thus far.

The Rockets return home looking to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Trail Blazers on Friday night.

While Houston (27-24) tied an NBA record with 23 3-pointers and posted its most points in 18 seasons Tuesday in a 140-109 rout of Golden State, it got all it could handle at Miami on Wednesday. James Harden had 36 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Rockets, who lost 114-108 after falling behind by as many as 17 in the third quarter.

"We had a tough run scoring the basketball," Harden said. "We even got stops, but the big plays where we needed to make a play, they got stops - so that was the difference in the ballgame."

Houston also had its hands full in two overtime defeats to the Blazers, 95-85 at home Nov. 3 and 119-117 in Portland on Nov. 16.

Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge and star rookie Damian Lillard averaged 28.0 and 23.5 points in those victories, while Nicolas Batum scored a career-high 35 in the second meeting.

"I think we are a really confident team in close games because we've been in that situation so many times and we've been successful," Lillard said despite losing 105-99 at Dallas on Wednesday. "So, anytime it's a close game and it comes down to needing a stop or a big basket, we have a confident team and we've been successful in those situations."

The Blazers (25-24) haven't taken three straight from the Rockets in the same season since 2002-03. They had dropped 12 of 13 in Houston before winning two of the last three.

After kicking off its six-game road trip Monday with a 100-98 win over Minnesota, Portland committed a season-low six turnovers but was outscored 22-9 in transition by the Mavericks.

"I think we definitely had a chance to win," said Aldridge, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds for his season-high sixth consecutive double-double. "We still have to do better."

Portland, which allowed Dallas to shoot 10 of 20 from 3-point range, limited the Rockets to a season-worst 19.2 percent in the first meeting. Houston has gone 23-9 when shooting at least 34.4 percent from long distance.

While much has been made about Harden's 25.8 points per game - good for fifth in the NBA - he's averaging 8.3 assists in three games this month.

"I try to get my teammates open shots (early in the game) so the defense kind of opens up a little bit," he said. "I'm the main option. My confidence has to be up to show my teammates that we can come out here and win these games."

The Rockets, scoring 105.8 points per game to rank second in the league, have won three straight and 16 of 21 at home while averaging 112.9.

Batum, who continues to play through pain in his right wrist, is averaging 8.0 points over his last six games - 7.5 less than his season mark.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Caldwell-Pope returns for Pistons against Kings

      AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is back in the starting lineup after missing four games with a strained left rotator cuff. … More »

      AP - Sports - 8 minutes ago
    • Nets G Lin to miss at least 3 more weeks

      Nets G Lin to miss at least 3 more weeks

      Jeremy Lin has had another setback while rehabbing a hamstring injury, and this time the Brooklyn Nets won't let him risk further injury trying to rush back. The Nets said Monday that Lin will miss three to five weeks after aggravating his strained … More »

      AP - Sports - 19 minutes ago
    • NBA-National Basketball Association roundup

      (Fixes slug and headline) Jan 23 (The Sports Xchange) - Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin will miss three to five more weeks after re-aggravating a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for most of the season, the team announced Monday. - - … More »

      Reuters - 25 minutes ago
    • Pelicans' Davis ruled out vs. Cavs

      NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- All-Star Anthony Davis will not play for the New Orleans Pelicans in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. … More »

      AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
    • Clippers' Griffin likely to play Tuesday

      Clippers' Griffin likely to play Tuesday

      ATLANTA (AP) -- Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been ruled out for their game against the Atlanta Hawks as part of his recovery from right knee surgery. … More »

      AP - Sports - 42 minutes ago