The two teams played to a standstill in the first quarter, but Blazers used the Rockets’ own game plan to leap ahead in the second quarter. Nurkic held down the inside, and the guards took care of business from the perimeter. Soon, Portland took a double-digit lead, and the Rockets couldn’t find a way to close the gap. Portland led by 9 at halftime.
Houston attempted surge after surge in the third quarter, but Portland deftly pushed the Rockets away each time. Damian Lillard kept pace with the Rockets’ James Harden, and the rest of the Blazers outplayed Houston. Portland led by 11 after the third quarter.
Houston attempted their next run early the fourth quarter, forcing a Terry Stotts timeout when they closed to within 7 points. But Houston closed to within 5 at the halfway point, and a Harden three-pointer cut the lead to 2. Portland just could not hit a shot, missing their first 9 three-pointers in the quarter. The Rockets tied the game with 2:25 left in the fourth, but Nurkic hit a layup to put Portland ahead again. The game began to get chippy, with bodies flying everywhere. McCollum and Lillard added free throws to push the lead to 6, and before Houston could react, Allen Crabbe stole the ball and laid it in for an 8 point lead!
Houston tried one more run, but a Nurkic dunk sealed one of Portland’s best wins of the season.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, Allen Crabbe, Jusuf Nurkic and Moe Harkless.
One more home game in this stretch, Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns. Stay tuned, Eric Griffith will have more from tonight’s game later this evening.