The Houston Rockets entered their 74th game of the season—against the Portland Trail Blazers—owning only 18 wins all year. Scoring 109 on average while allowing the opponent 118 will do that to you. But the Blazers are hardly Titans of the West either, especially with a lineup obscure enough to make Basketball Reference throw up a 404 error code.
Portland didn’t score 118 on the Rockets tonight. Instead they lost 125-106. They were unable to keep the Rockets under 50% shooting, allowing them an astonishing 44% from the arc before garbage time kicked in. That was scoring power the Blazers were unable to match, and the game results followed.
Trendon Watford had 19 in the loss. Drew Eubanks supported with 18. Portland topped 50% from the field themselves, but hit only 3-20, 15%, on three-pointers
Portland got off to a shaky start. announcing early that they didn’t intend to defend the three-point arc with anything more than modest effort. Houston hit a pair of threes, which was annoying, and then got a straight-line drive down the lane for a soft dunk. That caused Head Coach Chauncey Billups to call a frustration timeout. Portland scored a couple buckets right after, but they didn’t defend better. The Rockets jumped to a 12-4 lead.
Drew Eubanks put in a couple shots to keep his team on life support, but the defense didn’t get any better. At all. In any way. By the 4:00 mark, Houston led 28-11. The only guy hitting anything besides Eubanks was a local fan who sank a 94-foot putt for $50,000 during a timeout.
The Blazers made a small run at the end of the first, but the scoreboard still read 35-22 after one.
The Rockets didn’t start the second period destroying the Blazers from the arc as they had in the first. They didn’t have to. The lane became their playground, the restricted area their scoring zone of choice. Portland threw their usual attempt at a zone and got smoked like a rack of ribs. The Blazers also converted a few inside. Houston isn’t that great on defense themselves. The lead hovered around 13 until the Blazers started turning it over. Then...ugh. 20-point deficit, here we come.
Houston shooting errant jumpers was the only thing that saved the Blazers as the half wound down. Portland didn’t stop them, really. They just shot weird...maybe falling in love with the 20-footers too much. The Blazers continued to hammer it inside. That kept their scoring steady. It was enough to put the margin back to the -13 the Blazers began the quarter with, but not much more. Portland trailed 66-53 at the half.
Jalen Green and Jae’Sean Tate started out the third period stroking a pair of threes apiece. Kevin Porter, Jr. added one as well. That was 15 points in the first 6 minutes on long bombs alone. It was quite possible that the Blazers wouldn’t score that many in the period. When you add in paint points and free throws, Houston was putting this game away authoritatively. Their lead went back to 20 before you could blink and remained there most of the period.
Trendon Watford was out there trying his best. He had his game-high 19 by that point, plus the usual rebounds and assists, as the third period started to close. He was a lone voice in the wilderness. The Blazers made their obligatory late-period run but still trailed 96-82 after three.
Josh Christopher hit two three-pointers and a top-of-key jumper to get the Rockets off on the right foot in the fourth. He’d score 14 before the quarter was over. The final period mirrored all the others. Houston jumped out big, built a huge lead, and then cruised for the rest of the quarter. Eubanks got a few dunks in. Portland finally broke 100 points with 3:00 remaining. The Rockets already had 117 by that point. This game was over long before it was over.
Stay tuned for extended analysis from the game coming soon!
In case you didn’t get enough, the Blazers will face these same Houston Rockets tomorrow night at 7:00, Pacific at the Moda Center.