TRAIL BLAZERS BEAT ROCKETS IN OT, 128-126

Here's what we learned from the Rockets' loss to the Trail Blazers

Rockets lose in OT. Photo by Getty Images.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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