Team Records: Portland (7-4) at Houston (4-7)
Game Info: 5 p.m, TV on CSNNW, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -2
Refs: James Capers, Matt Boland and Kevin Fehr
The Skinny: Everyone has had one of those days where it seemed like things were going fine, until boom, it all went wrong. That was pretty much the fourth quarter for the Blazers last night. They will look to rebound Saturday against a rebuilding Rockets team, which, outside of Kyle Lowry, has been pretty awful this season.
Last season: The Blazers won the season series 3-1. It included their first win in Houston since 2007 and was their first series win over the Rockets since the 2002-03 season.
Projected Rockets Lineup:
PF: Luis Scola (Argentina, 5th season) – 16.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida, Rookie) – 7.2 PPG, 5 RPG, 1 APG
C: Samuel Dalembert (Seton Hall, 10th season) – 5.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, .3 APG
SG: Kevin Martin (Western Carolina, 8th season) – 16.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.7 APG
PG: Kyle Lowry (Villanova, 6th season) – 15 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 9.4 APG
Player to Watch: Kyle Lowry (pictured at right) – When Aaron Brooks went out with an injury early last season, it appeared all was lost for the Rockets. What they didn’t count on was Kyle Lowry’s emergence as a star. Lowry is an aggressive point guard with good instincts on both ends of the court. On offense, Lowry is very good at drawing fouls, but can at times get out of control and either turn the ball over or take bad shots. On defense, Lowry is excellent at taking charges and is a strong rebounder for someone his size. He will be tough for Portland to handle.
Did You Know?: Backup PG Goran Dragic grew up playing soccer, but an injury forced him to switch to basketball at age 11.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee); Doubtful – C Marcus Camby (ankle)
Houston: Questionable – G/F Courtney Lee (calf)
Houston is in that phase of a rebuilding process where they haven’t quite managed to blow it up yet, but they are well on their way. They struggle both offensively and defensively this season, with the exception of beyond the arc. They even shoot less free throws than their opponents this season, which had been a strength, primarily because of Kevin Martin, much of last year. When they are playing well, they force turnovers, rotate the ball to open shooters and hold opponents to well below their season average. They have yet to win a game this year in which their opponent even hit the 90-point mark. Still, they have enough talent to give most teams trouble, and although likely not a playoff team, they are not far from it this season.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They score 100+ points. Houston is not going to be able to keep up if the Blazers push the pace on them. If Portland hits 100, they will split the Texas trip back-to-back.
Houston wins if: They make at least 10 three-pointers. The one area where Houston doesn’t struggle on offense this season is from deep. If they can make 10 three-pointers, they almost never lose. They will have to do this in order to beat Portland on Saturday.