Team Records: Houston (42-33) at Portland (33-42)
Game Info: 7:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW/ESPN, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Houston -6
Refs: Mike Callahan, Brian Forte, Ed Malloy
The Skinny: The Blazers look to end their six game losing skid as they welcome in a Rockets team that is all but ensured of their first playoff bid since the 2008-09 season. The Rockets come in fresh off of a surprisingly narrow win in Sacramento and have won three straight.
Last Time They Met: The Rockets buried the Blazers early under a barrage of 3 pointers and didn’t let up, going 12-26 from distance as they cruised to an easy home win over the Blazers.
Projected Rockets Lineup:
PF: Greg Smith (Fresno State, 2nd season) – 5.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, .3 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida, 2nd season) – 15.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.5 APG
C: Omer Asik (Turkey, 3rd season) – 10.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG, .9 APG
SG: James Harden (Arizona State, 4th season) – 25.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.9 APG
PG: Jeremy Lin (Harvard, 3rd season) – 13 PPG, 3 RPG, 6.1 APG
Player to Watch: Chandler Parsons (pictured at right) – There weren’t a whole lot who expected much out of this 2011 second round pick but the Rockets seem to have found a gem in Parsons. Parsons is an improving shooter who has great size and athleticism for his position, sporting an impressive 57.9% true shooting % this season. He has improved from an atrocious 56% free throw shooter his rookie season to an acceptable 72% from the line this season. His defense could use some work but that is more the product of lack of experience than anything else. Parsons is yet another solid player the Rockets have managed to acquire for virtually no cost.
Did You Know?: After their mid-season trade of Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons is now the longest tenured player on the Rockets roster.
Song of the Day: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” from the Game of Thornes. Okay so I think Game of Thrones is awesome and as a result, this song is awesome. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), Doubtful-SF Nicolas Batum (Shoulder/Arm), Probable-PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Ankle).
Houston: Questionable-SG Carlos Delfino (Foot).
Re-Evaluating Houston: Punting for the Future?
When the Rockets traded Patrick Patterson and others to the Kings in exchange for disgruntled first round pick Thomas Robinson, they made a move that, although strong for the future if Robinson develops was nonetheless not exactly kind to the present. Patterson was a key player on a team that was growing and succeeding and perhaps, some argued, there is such a thing as too much roster turnover in one year? In my opinion, this is not much of a real worry. Robinson has enough potential upside and Houston enough cap flexibility this offseason that if he develops into anything it could turn out to be one of the best deals the Rockets have ever made. Far from punting for the future, it maybe hurt them for one year at most.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit second chance points. The Rockets, especially Asik, feast on second chance opportunities. If the Blazers can limit those, they should be able to make life difficult for Houston and come out with a win.
Houston wins if: They make their 3s. The Rockets don’t have to make 23 3s (as they did vs. the Warriors not too long ago) to beat Portland, far from it, but if they can shoot a reasonable percentage in making 10-15, they should prevail.