Two tired teams walked into a Rose Garden. What's the punchline? I don't know, but the Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Houston Rockets by 5. To Portland's credit, they stayed close, but Houston's defense and three-point shooting was too much to overcome, especially after Batum took the night off due to a sore quad.
No Blazer had a great night, but they were led in scoring by LaMarcus Aldridge's 20 points. The young guys had what is now an average night: JJ Hickson brought energy, along with 12 points and 10 boards. Luke Babbitt hit a few nice shots, and Jonny Flynn struggled a bit in very limited minutes.
The game started with neither team scoring for the first three minutes, before Courtney Lee and Matthews traded three's. The shooting struggles continued throughout the first. Holding a slim lead, Marcus Camby hit a three at the buzzer, pushing the Rockets ahead by 5 after the first. Portland's shooting woes continued in the second, as Houston improved their D. However, the Rockets started hitting shots, getting ahead by double digits. A late Houston cold spell helped the Blazers cut the lead to 9 at the half.
Houston came out of the locker room with nothing in the tank at either end, and the Blazers stormed right back into the game. However, once they tied the game, their defense dried up, leading to multiple layups and three pointers. Aldridge and Hickson kept it close, only trailing by 6 after the third.
Portland again struggled to score early in the fourth, as Dragic helped Houston reopen a 10 point lead early. 5 minutes later? Still a 10 point lead. A late Blazer run closed the gap, but there would be no streamers tonight.
Check out the box score, then stay tuned for Dave and Ben. Golden State is in town Wednesday night for a late ESPN game. -- Tim