ROCKETS FALL TO BLAZERS

Important takeaways from Rockets' 104-92 loss to Trail Blazers

Important takeaways from Rockets' 104-92 loss to Trail Blazers
Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets suffered their 10th loss on the season falling to the Trail Blazers 104-92 on Friday night. Nassir Little and Damian Lillard dominated throughout the game. Missed free throw attempts have destroyed the chances of winning games this season. Friday night, the Rockets shot 63 percent from the free throw line, which puts them dead last in the NBA. As they continue to miss free throws, it makes it harder for them to compete against other competitive teams.

Another thing that damaged the Rockets was turnovers in half court play. Jalen Green had 6 of 13 of turnovers versus the Portland Trail Blazers. Green got out muscled at times or went into the Trail Blazers defensive coverage, which resulted in fastbreak points. He is averaging 3.1 turnovers per contest and opponents are averaging 17.2 points per game on the season from Green's turnovers, as that needs to slow down. It was another up-and-down night for Green, when it came to scoring the basketball. Green is still trying to find that elite stride as a shooter in the NBA. He only shot the ball at 33 percent because of his nine attempts.

It's all about Green finding his rhythm instead of forcing passes and shots. Making the simple play is the best way for Green to impact the game. He missed his rim runner (Christian Wood) on a pick-and-roll opportunity, as a passing lane was open. Green will eventually find his shooting spots on the court and be able to read coverages better. These shooting slumps will not last for Green, as he is shooting 28.9 percent beyond the perimeter and 35.8 percent from the field. Green is a human microwave just waiting to explode because he has shot diversity and amazing first step. Damian Lillard was impressed with Green throughout the season.

"Obliviously, I think he [Green] is very super talented," Lillard said. "Don't listen to what people tell you. You're this pick, you go to be the man, and take over. Just show up, work hard. Stay humble. Be coachable. Listen to your teammates. Your talent is going to allow you to be the starter you're supposed to be. Just make sure that foundation is right when...you come into the league."

Kevin Porter Jr. had a good, elevated night, as he held the Rockets in a close margin throughout the game. The Rockets go as far as Porter takes him, as he can control the pace of his scoring and facilitation. Inside the first quarter, he found a little scoring and put his teammates in position to score. He had a 119 offensive rating in the first quarter, with a 24 net rating. As the game continued in the second quarter, Porter played 7:40 minutes, but sizzled down with in the quarter, as he only shot 33 percent with no assists.

The Rockets' offense struggled in the second quarter, as the team only scored 14 points. Porter makes the Rockets' offense flow because of his skill set with the basketball. Porter had one turnover and shot the ball 50 percent from the field. The three-point shot does need work, as he loves taking step-back and pull-up threes throughout the game. When Porter does a better job at controlling the pace with his passing and scoring, the Rockets will be successful, as they have Green and Wood as their other two weapons.

Coach Chauncey Billups and Lillard believe Porter can be a star within in the NBA as he learns the point guard position.

"He's kind of been judged and misunderstood, but the talent level is through the roof," Lillard said. "He can do everything, and personally, he's one of my favorite young players in the league."

Up next: The Rockets face the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at 6pm.

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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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