For some reason, the Houston Rockets just can’t find a way to make enough plays down the stretch against the Portland Trail Blazers. Friday night’s 119-117 overtime loss marked the second time that the Rockets have fallen to the Blazers in overtime, the first coming on November 3rd, when the Rockets fell 95-85 in OT. Houston led by as much as 13 in the third quarter before the Blazers began their comeback, behind Nicolas Batum’s 35 points, and Damian Lillard, who scored 16 of the team’s last 21 points and finished with a career high 27 points.
The Rockets were led by James Harden with 29 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, with great contributions from Omer Asik (16 points, 16 rebounds), Chandler Parsons (19 points, 11 rebounds), Jeremy Lin (11 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds) and Marcus Morris off the bench (16 points).
This has been an eventful week for the Rockets, first with the sudden leave of absence from Kevin McHale, the Jeremy Lin interview with Yahoo! Sports, as well as the ongoing saga with rookie Royce White. With much distraction around them, the young team still had the ability to compete at a high performance, starting with Monday night’s narrow 113-110 loss to the Miami Heat, to last’s nights slim defeat. Rockets fans should have much to cheer about, as some of the holes are in the process of being covered.
The Rockets received good bench play, with Morris’s 16 points and 4-6 shooting from three. Toney Douglas, whose 9 points was big in spelling Jeremy Lin, actually got the bulk of the minutes in overtime last night instead of Lin(a decision in which I question coach Kelvin Sampson in). Another major contributor Carlos Delfino did not play last night, due to a groin injury.
The starters played heavy minutes once again last night, with Harden going 43 minutes, Parsons going 48 minutes, and Asik going 44 minutes. Those numbers will go down if Morris and Douglas can become steady with their recent production, as well as when Delfino returns to 100%, which would be a good sign for the Rockets. The season is still young, and the young Rockets are still learning, but the type of energy and excitement that they have been playing with should benefit them in the long run.
The Rockets travel to Staples Center tomorrow night to play the Los Angeles Lakers which should make for an exciting, up-tempo game. Look for Lin to have a big game if the Rockets pull it out, as the Laker point guards tomorrow night will be Darius Morris and Chris Duhon.