Houston sought revenge for the playoffs last season, and extracted it against a Trail Blazers squad missing its star forward.
Damian Lillard had 18 and Meyers Leonard had a season-high 13 points, but James Harden scored 44 and Houston got a 110-95 win at the Toyota Center Monday night.
Despite being without their star forward, Portland started the game hot. Meyers Leonard had possibly his best quarter of basketball in his NBA career, shooting 3-of-4 for 8 points along with strong defense on Dwight Howard and Donatas Motiejunas. Lillard scored 11 in the first, but Portland watched an eight point lead evaporate as James Harden took his Oscar-worthy antics to new heights, scoring 19 in the period. Behind his efforts, Houston held a four point lead after one.
The second quarter turned into a Houston shooting drill. The Blazers committed eight turnovers in the period, shot just 6-of-18 with Lillard hitting just 1-of-5, and Harden added 12 more to his total, giving Houston a commanding 20 point advantage at halftime.
The third quarter saw some chippy play as Motiejunas pulled down Wesley Matthews with a judo armbar, only for Matthews to be called for a flagrant one for trying to get free. Then Kostas Papanikolaou elbowed Leonard in the ribs for a technical foul. Portland used this motivation to rally for a 14-3 run boosted by a pair of Matthews threes and a dunk by Leonard, but Harden scored eight quick points and Houston re-took a 20 point lead after three.
CJ McCollum and Will Barton had a strong fourth quarter, but the game was virtually decided early on, and Houston walked away with the win.
Wesley Matthews had 14, and McCollum had 17 off the bench.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Looks like we got our hats handed to us this evening. Oh well, we handed the Pelicans their hats a couple days ago, so we are even as far as hats go.
by Steve Postfontaine
Did You Know? No one on the Rockets even owns a rocket, or is even from Houston. Everything about them is a LIE.
Man. It's getting dang near impossible to get on the Where in the World nowadays. Get a pic on the moon maybe? Get a sasquatch to wear a Rip City jersey? Deep inside North Korea?
"Being out there you feel how tough it is without him when a team doesn’t have to honor him being on the floor." - Lillard on missing LMA— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 23, 2014
Wright summed it up best: "We got to bounce back. Can't feel sorry for ourselves." Added #Blazers need to bring better energy vs OKC— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 23, 2014
Harden again stated game wasn't about revenge: "Last year? Nah what happened the last two games. Last year, we can't control that." #Rockets— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 23, 2014