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Houston Rockets Stumble Late in Rip City

Mar 30, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during the second quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 30, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) during the second quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Houston Rockets tried to mount another Space City comeback late, but sloppy play and missed threes were too much to overcome in a 117-107 loss to the Trail Blazers.

No need to panic. Yet.

Coming into Thursday’s game, Portland had won 12 out of their last 15, putting together a real playoff push and fighting their way back to the eighth seed. Most recently, they had beaten Denver in a playoff-like, must-win showdown.

The Rockets lost a close one to Golden State on Tuesday, but the main topic of the week was the status of James Harden‘s wrist. It’s been giving him trouble but he has thus far refused to rest.

Looking at the game against the Blazers, Harden was clearly in pain and may need to sit the next couple of games out for Houston to stand a real chance in the playoffs.

34. . 107. 169. 117

From the first quarter on, Portland was focused in playoffs-or-die mode.

Houston basically chased this game for all 48 minutes. The Blazers nearly ran away with things in the second quarter but the Beard fought and clawed his way back into the contest.

Despite all the turnovers, missed threes and general sloppy play on the night, Houston actually tied it up at 105 late in the game. Could they actually pull off the win?

Nope, Harden’s wrist had alternative plans. He ended up 2-13 from deep, with 6 turnovers and his lowest assist output (4) in months. He had 30 points, but it was clear that James is trying to force himself in these meaningless games and needs to be rested for the playoffs.

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Damian Lillard, healthy wrist and all, was able to drop 31 and dish out 11 assists with his own MVP type performance.

The only significant takeaway from this game is that this season has taken a toll on James Harden. The Rockets are already locked in the three seed. Games like these are the reason why NBA superstars need rest every now and then; we need them for April, May and possibly June.

We’ll see if Mike D’Antoni decides to keep him out of tonight’s contest against the Warriors.

Next: Harden vs. Westbrook: Triple Doubles and the MVP

Stay tuned to Space City Scoop for more analysis, news, and opinions on the Houston Rockets!

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