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Injury-Plagued Blazers Come Up Short Against Rockets, 124-117

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Without Nurkic or Harkless, the Blazers almost pulled off the shocking upset at Moda. This was about as fun as losses get.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, falling to the Houston Rockets in the final minutes. That might sound like bad news to you. But without the injured Jusuf Nurkic and Moe Harkless, the spirited Blazers gave Houston everything they could handle, making for a rarity: A surprisingly upbeat 124-117 loss. There’s little to be gained by focusing on what went wrong, so let’s cover the essentials of a weird, fun game.

  1. Blazer Basketball is fun again. Maybe it was the postgame interviews Tuesday. Maybe it was a few more nights in their own beds. Or maybe it was the knowledge they were short-handed. But the Blazers never looked lethargic all night. They brought their “A Game” from the opening tip, harassing Houston on defense, and moving briskly around the court to unselfishly find the right shots on offense. The fans were excited all night, in a manner not seen since their home opener.
  2. Free throws aplenty. It’s no secret that the Houston Rockets shoot a lot of free throws. But in a physical game, the Blazers watched James Harden march to the line with any perceived contact. Harden personally kept the Rockets alive during their droughts. The Rockets shot 42 free throws (14 for Harden), while the Blazers saw 12 for the entire evening.
  3. Damian’s 3-point stroke returned... until the injury. Lillard hit 9 three-pointers tied a Blazers team record, but it vanished late. Why? Lillard turned his ankle in the second half, eventually fighting through it, but he didn’t look the same.

The Blazers were led by Lillard (35 points, 6 assists), CJ McCollum (28 points), Al-Farouq Aminu (15 points), and the starting Meyers Leonard (12 points).

Box Score

Highlights

The game started off with fireworks between Chris Paul and Leonard.

What’s Next

A trip to Oakland for a date with the defending NBA Champions the Golden State Warriors. But stay tuned for more coverage of tonight’s game from Blazer’s Edge.