Team Records: Houston (14-11) at Portland (14-11)
Game Info: 7 PM, TV on CSNNW/NBA, Radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -7
Refs: Michael Smith, Courtney Kirkland, Derek Richardson.
The Skinny: Okay, we’ve all heard too much about Monday’s game, it was a bad call, it was crap, and we lost when we shouldn’t have. All that is in the past, and the best way for Portland to respond is to get back on the winning track and beat Houston Wednesday night. The Rockets are coming in off a road win over a Denver team that was missing, by the end of the game, three of its five starters. Houston is a streaky team this year, and after winning 7 in a row earlier this year, has lost 3 of their last 5.
Last time they met: In a game that frankly the Blazers had no business being in, a late Aldridge jumper forced overtime. However, once there, the Rockets had just enough in the tank to get the job done and hand Portland the road loss.
Projected Rockets Lineup:
PF: Luis Scola (Argentina, 5th season) – 15.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.7 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida, Rookie) – 6.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG
C: Samuel Dalembert (Seton Hall, 10th season) – 8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, .5 APG
SG: Kevin Martin (Western Carolina, 8th season) – 19.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.7 APG
PG: Kyle Lowry (Villanova, 6th season) – 14.9 PPG, 6 RPG, 8 APG
Player to Watch: Luis Scola (pictured at right) – Scola gained some perhaps unwarranted notoriety recently when Kevin Love’s stomp of Scola’s face became the reason why Love was, quite rightly, suspended two games. Scola is quite a player in his own right. Scola is a strong offensive player and is especially effective with his midrange jumper. Scola has this crazy move where he appears to almost wrench his left shoulder out of his socket to get a shot off. This has the effect of getting defenders off balance and is quite effective. Scola is not, however, good on defense and is easily beaten by players with decent perimeter shots. Still, he is a lot to handle for any player he faces.
Did You Know?: Houston has lost four times this year when leading by double-digits earlier in the game. They have failed to overcome a double digit deficit themselves.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee); questionable – PG Raymond Felton (foot)
Re-Evaluating Houston: Examining a Streaky Team
Houston is a streaky bunch this year, and they can win games versus teams they seemingly shouldn’t have had much hope against while losing games versus inferior opponents. Some of that is the nature of this crazy compressed season, but some of it speaks to the team itself. Houston seemingly has to have a number of things go well in order to win. They have to outrebound you, they have to shoot more free throws than you, and they have to hold a lead throughout the game. Beyond that, they do not seem particularly capable of recovering when things go badly. Get up on Houston early, and they will tend to give up.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They lead at the half. Houston is not a team that is particularly capable of staying a big comeback. If Portland leads throughout the early part of the game, Houston is liable to give up.
Houston wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. Houston is not the strongest offensive team in the world, and if they want to win, they have to keep the Blazers from doing what they usually do offensively at home.