Portland Trail Blazers (16-13) vs Houston Rockets (9-19)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Houston Rockets in Houston for the third game of a six game road trip, and the final game of their Texas swing. The Blazers lost their last matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, but still come into this matchup as winners of three of their last four. The Rockets are on their fourth game of a seven game home stand, and sit at 2-1 so far.
The Blazers are hoping to continue their upwards trend now that Damian Lillard is back in the lineup. They are 4-2 since Lillard came back, and now sit sixth in the Western Conference. With their next three games coming against teams in the bottom three in the West, they are hoping to see an increase in their standing.
Trail Blazers vs. Rockets - Saturday, December 17 - 5:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Gary Payton II (out), Nassir Little (out)
Rockets injuries: Jae’Sean Tate (out), Tari Eason (day-to-day), Alperen Sengun (probable)
SBN Affiliate: The Dream Shake
- Limiting second chances. The Rockets rank 29th in field goal percentage and 24th in three-point percentage so far this year. However, to balance out those misses, they also rank first in the league in offensive rebounds per game. The Blazers will have their hands full trying to limit the second chances that the Rockets generally get. With Jusuf Nurkic and Josh Hart being some of the premier rebounders at their respective positions, they are more equipped than a lot of teams to weather that storm. With players like Trendon Watford and Drew Eubanks ready to step in off the bench, the Blazers should be able to stop the Rockets from getting up extra shots.
- Forcing errors. The Rockets turn the ball over more than any other team in the league, with 16.9 per game. If the Blazers can keep the Rockets offense from gaining any momentum by forcing turnovers and limiting how many offensive possessions end in a shot, they should have a good chance of being able to control the flow of this game. The Blazers rank just 25th in steals per game, so they may have to rely on mistakes from the Rockets rather than just steals, but with the way the Rockets have been playing with their fast and loose style, that may not be a bad bet for the Blazers.
- Hitting their shots. It may seem obvious, but generally the team making more shots at a higher percentage wins the game. The Blazers have taken that to heart this year as they are ninth in the league in field goal percentage and second in three point percentage. They shot well below their averages in their last contest against the Mavericks, and it ended in a loss with Portland’s lowest scoring game in the month of December. Getting back on track with their efficient shooting is priority number one against the 15th-seeded Rockets, and a good shooting performance could set the tone for the rest of the road trip.
What Others Are Saying
The Rockets came out lackadaisical, still got a lead, and then downshifted. That happened a lot with the peak Harden Rockets. Those teams usually got their asses back in gear and won. This team can’t, for a lot of reasons. Mainly, they don’t know how to play well enough. When they do turn on the energy, when they do make games a track meet, they have a chance to win nearly every contest. It’s ugly, and chaotic, but it works. It might have worked tonight, but didn’t, quite.
Coty M. Davis of Inside The Rockets talks about the impact Usman Garuba had for the Rockets in their last contest.
The Rockets had a mediocre performance on the defensive end until the fourth quarter. They held Miami scoreless for a five-minute stretch, and Usman Garubahelped change the Rockets’ defensive play.
Silas was pleased by Garuba’s efforts. His play led to Silas trusting the second-year defensive forward to close the game over Alperen Sengun and Bruno Fernando. He provided a spark off the bench with his energy and hustle with nine rebounds — five came on the offensive end.