TRAIL BLAZERS BEAT ROCKETS IN OT, 128-126
Here's what we learned from the Rockets' loss to the Trail Blazers
How did the Portland Trail Blazers survive the depleted Houston Rockets roster? Well, 44 points and eight assists by CJ McCollum helped the Trail Blazers survive the Rockets' new offensive scoring attack. The scoring attack between James Harden and Christian Wood could not outdo Damian Lillard and McCollum.
Although, Harden and Wood combined for 75 points, McCollum and Lillard accumulated 76 points, which is only a point difference. The little things effected the Rockets' throughout Saturday night's game in Portland. Small turnovers, break downs in the back end of the defense, and open shots in the corner became hurtful to the Rockets in the closing minutes. There were countless times when McCollum had wide-open shots, including a game winner with six seconds left.
Stephen Silas the head coach for the Rockets commented on the use of Wood on defense. The idea with Wood was to monitor the guard play of the Blazers, so he was able to watch McCollum and Lillard. There were times when Wood played great one-on-one defense on Lillard. Lillard only shot 33 percent when guarded by Wood on offense.
"The defensive end is something we'll have to work on," Silas mentioned during his press conference. "These shooting guards coming off these pindowns, it's really a hard job to be able to be all the way up to take those away, but then not let the rollers roll below you."
Besides Wood's defense, he was impressive on offense because of his ability to stretch the floor. Wood became tougher going towards the rim and collected three tough offensive rebounds. Jusuf Nurkic struggled defending Wood around the perimeter, as he continued to create off the dribble 15 ft from the basket. Wood scored 12 points on 85 percent shooting versus Nurkic Saturday night. Wood finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and shot 63.6 percent from the field.
A Strong Rockets Debut For @Chriswood_5 🏀 31pts 💪 13reb https://t.co/gcQGvodsoA— Houston Rockets (@Houston Rockets) 1609049530.0
The Rockets started the game off hot offensively by scoring 68 points in the first half. It was incredible to watch the Rockets in transition, including their pace down the court. Everybody on the Rockets looked well-conditioned because of the pace they maintained throughout the game. Jae'Sean Tate benefited from this offensive play of the Rockets Saturday night. Seeing Tate in give-in-go opportunities allowed him to score on layups against the Blazers. Tate shot 55 percent from the field and scored 13 points off the bench.
Harden had a magnificent night by scoring 44 points and 17 assists, which is unbelievable. After having a tough week with the NBA, Harden was still able to almost lead this depleted roster to a victory. Harden came in shorthanded without having John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Gordon and still was determined to beat the Blazers. Harden's engagement and communication with his teammates became important throughout the game. His offensive game was potent down the stretch, as Harden made tough layups and shots to push the Rockets to overtime.
James is really good. Regardless of what James does in his spare time, James is really f---ing good at basketball. Like, he's really good," McCollum mentioned in his press conference after the game.
James Harden on if he surprised himself scoring 44 points and having 17 assists: "I didn't surprise myself at all,… https://t.co/yhy6SdjNOQ— Alykhan Bijani (@Alykhan Bijani) 1609050144.0
As McCollum and Harden went back and forth, Harden couldn't answer, which resulted in a turnover to seal the game for the Blazers. Silas created an isolation play for James, so he was able to make a play but confusion with PJ Tucker resulted in a turnover. "I was trying to get an isolation at the top for [James Harden] and let him make the play," as Silas mentioned during the press conference after the game.
I asked James Harden what happened: "I was just trying to make a quick decision. Once I got in the paint, they did… https://t.co/6B4CE0ZHZ1— Alykhan Bijani (@Alykhan Bijani) 1609050757.0
The Rockets could have won this game, but the Blazers should feel embarrassed by barely beating a depleted roster. This team will be dangerous once Wall, Cousins, and Gordon come back. Hopefully, the Rockets make adjustment as they play the Denver Nuggets Sunday.