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Nurkic, Trail Blazers Dominate Ice Cold Rockets

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The Rockets continue their early slide, dropping to 1-5, thanks in part to an efficient and energized showing from the Portland trail Blazers

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of a Houston Rockets team without last years MVP, James Harden on Tuesday night, cruising to a 104-85 victory. The absence of Harden may not have made a difference as the Rockets shot 32% from the floor and were only able to muster up 36 first half points. Portland’s starters sat the fourth quarter as their team dominated from the second period on. The game was never in doubt.

Houston, There is Certainly a Problem

Both teams looked to be out trick-or-treating early in the night. With 7 minutes left in the second quarter, the two teams combined to shoot 19 of 65 from the floor, 29 percent. That’s as ugly as anything you’ll see on Halloween night. Portland had multiple glaring miscommunications that led to passing sailing out of bounds. They finished with 10 turnovers in the half. But unlike the Rockets, the Blazers found their groove, hitting 7 of their last 9 shots of the half and build themselves a 15 point cushion at halftime.

Take what the D gives

The Blazers started finishing around the rim and hit a few jumpers, but the the change in the game came when they realized that Houston’s defense was going to give them whatever they wanted. Portland opted for easy shots under the rim. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum exposed mismatches and found easy access through the lane. Jusuf Nurkic ran the floor and planted his big body under the basket, knowing guards were going to have no problem finding passing lanes to get him easy buckets. The Blazers trio combined to score 63 points in just 80 minutes of playing time on 66% shooting.

Bring Back that Blazer Bench

The Blazers started the fourth quarter with a 85-62 lead and let the second unit take it home. Dame, CJ and the rest of the starting unit didn’t have to step on the court late as the Rockets continued to hover around the 30% mark shooting. Aside from a late 13-2 run from Houston, Portland’s bench mob, with contributions all over, kept the Rockets at a 20 point disadvantage and came away with the 104-85 victory.

Analysis

Houston looked horrible. Part of it was Portland began making good reads with the ball and playing hard the whole game. Much of it was just Houston. It’s hard to believe the Blazers were playing their final game on a four game road trip.

It was good to see Nurkic dominate in a game like this. Houston is known to go small and expose traditional big men, but Nurkic used his size and strength to turn that weakness into an advantage of his own. He finished with 22 points, and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. A great sign for him and his role going forward.

It was also good to get Dame and CJ a quarter off as the team prepares for a difficult six-game home stand.

Next Up:

Boxscore

The Blazers take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday November 1 on TNT.