Blazers blow 20-point lead, fall 104-101 to Rockets

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Portland Trail Blazers were back in action today (or tonight, depending on your time zone and work schedule) on the road against the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets have undergone some drastic changes since these two teams last met on December 26th. James Harden is in Brooklyn, while the Rockets received Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, and a buttload of draft picks and pick swaps as part of a 4-team trade.


Houston: John Wall, Victor Oladipo, Jae’Sean Tate, P.J. Tucker, Christian Wood

Portland: Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr., Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Jones Jr., Enes Kanter

Game Recap

Rodney Hood returned to the lineup for Portland after sitting out the last game against the Thunder. Robert Covington was still out with a concussion, although he did travel with the team.

First Quarter

The Blazers got out to a ferocious start, gaining a 25-8 lead before the Rockets needed a timeout. Houston’s dreadful 3/16 start from the field made the game feel like it was over before it even started.

Dame led the way with 13 while making all of his three threes. Kanter added eight points while DJJ added emphasis.

Boogie Cousins’ and-one gave Houston a grain of momentum, but the Blazers still took a 32-17 lead into the second quarter.

Second Quarter

Christian Wood led a quick Houston run to start the second, with Stotts calling a timeout up 32-25. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 15-2 run after going down 30-10.

Carmelo Anthony had a nice dunk before Anfernee Simons and Danuel House Jr. traded threes.

Dame’s return to the floor gave Portland’s offense a boost with Wall and Wood both entering double-figures on the other end.

A David Nwaba steal-turned John Wall dunk brought the Rockets within one point. A timeout later, a Wood dunk fully eliminated the monumental lead built in the first quarter.

Dame had 20 in the first half, but he couldn’t complete a Portland 2-for-1 at the buzzer. By that point it meant a three-point deficit going into half.

Third Quarter

The second hal did not start well for Portland, and particularly Carmelo Anthony. The future-Hall-of-Famer bricked three straight shots to start the third.

Unexpectedly, it was Melo’s defensive effort that spurred a Blazers run, with Gary Trent hitting consecutive threes on the offensive end.

It wasn’t very long before the Rockets made another run of their own, though, taking a 10-point lead with five minutes left in the quarter.

A flurry of threes marked the end of the third, with Ant hitting the last one for his eighth point.

Entering the fourth, Dame was up to 28 points while Kanter, DJJ, and Gary all had 11 each. Melo was stuck at six after going 3/11 from the field.

Oladipo had 20 points, Wall 15, and Christian Wood a dominant 21 with 11 boards in 26 minutes.

Fourth Quarter

Trent quickly turned his 11 into 20, but the Blazers were still down four points with seven minutes to go.

Down the stretch, it was Portland’s supporting cast doing the dirty work. The Blazers took the lead with four minutes left off another GTJ three and Kanter putback.

With Derrick Jones out for the night, Melo had to step up on the defensive end. He locked up Wood and grabbed a couple of important rebounds as the clock ticked down.

Down one with a minute left, Dame left a step-back three short and Oladipo made a driving layup.

Gary Trent’s potentially game-tying layup was blocked but Christian Wood missed a free throw with 20 seconds left. Ant hit a three to make the Houston lead just one with three seconds left.

Tucker made a pair of free throws with two seconds left and the Blazers called their last timeout to advance the ball.

Simons never got a clean look and airballed the final shot of the game, handing the Blazers a painful road loss after getting off to a blazing start.

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