Team Records: Portland (25-24) at Houston (27-24)
Game Info: 5 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Houston -7.5
Refs: Marc Davis, Mark Ayotte, Sean Wright
The Skinny: The Blazers look to rebound from a loss in Dallas Wednesday as they face perhaps their most important game of the year in Houston. The Blazers and Rockets are locked in a tight battle for the final playoff spot and a win would give Portland that all important season series tie breaker (since Portland already won the first 2 meetings between the two early in the year). Houston is coming off a loss to Miami but scored 140 and hit an NBA-record tying 23 3s in a win over Golden State earlier this week.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers forced OT and then dominated once they got there, pulling out to a big lead and then holding on late when the Rockets rallied. Lillard took over when it mattered, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter and OT to lead Portland to the win.
Projected Rockets Lineup:
PF: Patrick Patterson (Kentucky, 3rd season) – 11.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida, 2nd season) – 14.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.7 APG
C: Omer Asik (Turkey, 3rd season) – 10.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 1 APG
SG: James Harden (Arizona State, 4th season) – 25.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.6 APG
PG: Jeremy Lin (Harvard, 3rd season) – 12.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.2 APG
Player to Watch: Jeremy Lin (pictured at right) – There have been few more unexpected and amazing feats than that pulled off by Jeremy Lin during last season. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Jeremy Lin had as amazing a two-week run as the NY’s starting PG as you are ever likely to see. Even though a knee injury ended his season shortly thereafter, Lin had completely turned his career around, from a bench warmer to a highly paid star. After New York refused to match Houston’s offer sheet, Lin found himself headed to Houston. The results this year have been mostly okay so far, nothing special but very solid for a starting PG in the NBA. It isn’t Linsanity but regardless, no one will ever think of Lin as an afterthought again, he is here in the league to stay.
Did You Know?: Houston entered this season as the youngest and least experienced team in the league on average, although you certainly wouldn’t know it by their record.
Song of the Day: “Free Bird by Lyndrd Skynyrd-Sometimes you just want to yell FREE BIRD! This is one of those times Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), Questionable-SF Sasha Pavlovic (Foot), PG Ronnie Price (Ankle)
Houston: Probable-SG Carlos Delfino (Elbow)
Re-Evaluating Houston: On Blowouts
During the closing moments of Houston’s blowout win over the Warriors on Tuesday night, many Warriors fans complained openly that Houston was still shooting 3s, trying to break the NBA record for 3s made in a game. While good sportsmanship is of course always something we want to practice, in reality my view has always been, if you don’t want to get blown out, you should play better. That being said, since Golden State and Houston will meet again this year, it is perhaps not advisable to run up the score given that doubtless Golden State will remember their loss and put in extra effort to beat the Rockets.
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 to beat Portland, far from it, but if they can shoot a reasonable percentage in making 10-15, they should prevail.