After falling to the Houston Rockets 124-117 on Saturday night, the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers had high praise for the Rockets.
Houston had won its five previous road games by double-digits, and most of their home wins were blowouts as well. In fact, the last time that Houston didn’t win by double-digits was in a loss to the Raptors way back on Nov. 14. Chris Paul returned to Houston’s lineup in the next game, and the Rockets rattled off eight wins in a row, with the closest game being a 112-101 win in Utah. But, Portland gave Houston its biggest scare in the last month.
The Rockets couldn’t slow down the Blazers, and Damian Lillard dropped 22 of Portland’s 62 first half points. The Blazers made a push at the end of the third quarter to go up 98-84 heading into the final period. But Chris Paul and James Harden combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter, making nine of their ten shots to lead Houston to a win.
Terry Stotts, the head coach of the Blazers, wasn’t too impressed with the officiating down the stretch. With that being said, Stotts said that the Rockets were the best team in the NBA, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
“They’re the best team in the league right now. We took away their passing, took away their 3s and they best us with one-on-one play.”
Stotts is right, because the Blazers did everything right against the Rockets yet they still lost. The Blazers ran Houston off of the perimeter, and they held the Rockets to only 10 made 3s on 25 attempts. That’s nearly 20 3-point attempts less than Houston’s season average. Also, Paul and Harden are obviously the main play makers in Houston’s offense, but Portland held the pair to just 10 combined assists.
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Houston won the game off of the back of Harden and Paul’s ability to beat their opponents off of the dribble. Houston outscored Portland 54 to 36 in the paint, and they made 25 more free throws than the Blazers.
The Blazers switched on every screen, so Houston would run the pick-and-roll until they found a favorable matchup, and then they would attack the rim. Paul and Harden displayed their unselfishness in this game, as they were more than content to take the backseat on alternating possessions.
The Houston Rockets have been able to win on the road and at home, on the back of their defense or offense, and by making a lot of 3-pointers of by pouring in points in the paint. This is the most versatile roster that Houston has had in a long time, and they have the best record and longest winning streak in the NBA. So if Terry Stotts wants to call the Houston Rockets the best team in the league, we aren’t going to argue with him.