Team Records: Houston (3-1) at Portland (2-1)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: Mike Callahan, Kane Fitzgerald, Eli Roe
The Skinny: The Blazers look to make it three wins in a row as they welcome a strong Houston team to Portland. Houston is coming off of a loss to the Clippers last night in which they played, shall we say, suspect defense at best, allowing a Clippers-franchise record 78 points in the first half. This is the final game in Houston’s current three game road swing.
Last Season: The two teams split the season series 2-2, Portland won the first two in the series, both in OT, and Houston the last two.
Projected Rockets Lineup:
PF: Dwight Howard (SW Atlanta Christian Academy (HS), 10th season) – 15 PPG, 17 RPG, 1 APG
SF: Chandler Parsons (Florida, 3rd season) – 14.3 PPG, 8 RPG, 3.7 APG
C: Omer Asik (Turkey, 4th season) – 4.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 0 APG
SG: James Harden (Arizona State, 5th season) – 26 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.3 APG
PG: Jeremy Lin (Harvard, 4th season) – 16.7 PPG, 2 RPG, 3.3 APG
Player to Watch: Dwight Howard (pictured at right) – Is there anyone who cares about the NBA who is NOT tired of the seemingly endless talk about where Dwight Howard would end up? Yeah, me neither. Dwight is now firmly ensconced in Houston and it remains to be seen if this will be the place for him, or if it will be a third straight subpar season. Howard has all the physical skills you could every ask for in a big man, rebounding, defense, finishing near the rim, and on and on but often he has seemed to lack the effort needed to fully take advantage of these gifts. Howard is also a poor free throw shooter and is prone to committing silly fouls. Still, if the effort is there, Howard is probably about the best there is right now and the early returns suggest that Houston is a great place for Dwight Howard.
Did You Know?: The longest tenured player on the Rockets is Chandler Parsons, Houston’s 2011 second round pick.
Song of the Day: “Rocket Man” by Elton John. The Rockets hope its not going to be a long, long time before they win a title. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – PG CJ McCollum (Foot), Questionable- C Joel Freeland (Hip)
Houston: Out – PG Patrick Beverley (Torn Muscle), Questionable- SF Omri Caspi (Ankle)
Its amazing how quickly you can turn over a roster if you want to. Well, Houston GM Daryl Morey certainly did, with only one player carrying over the 2011 season (Parsons) and several new players this year. The Rockets, at least early on, have proven to be really good at two things, scoring points and rebounding. Houston is deadly from nearly anywhere on the court, shooting a sizzling 53.6% on two point attempts and 38.2% from deep. They average over 48 rebounds a game as well. Despite last night’s loss, Houston had been allowing opponents to shoot only 39% from the field through their first three games. If Houston has a weakness, it may be at the line, where they shoot a lot of free throws but make barely 69%. Its going to require a top-shelf effort from Portland to beat the Rockets.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make someone other than Harden beat them. Harden usually kicks Portland’s ass and the way he’s going right now, he probably will again. Houston has plenty of other scorers but Harden is the most important. If the Blazers can make someone else beat them, they should be able to prevail.
Houston wins if: They score at least 110 points. The Rockets score points in bunches and if they hit 110 Tuesday night, they should win fairly easily.