Trail Blazers vs Rockets Saturday, 12/05/09 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers look to break losing skid against Houston

  1. Written by: Max Mandel

    When the Portland Trail Blazers (12-8) host the Houston Rockets (11-8) on Saturday night at the Rose Garden, Trail Blazers fans will be looking to see if this team can bounce out of the recent funk they have been in. With the constant traveling and numerous games throughout the week, NBA teams rarely have the opportunity for three straight days of quality practice. However, after losing to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, the Trail Blazers spent the last three days working hard in practice to correct the problems that have plagued them in their past three games.

    This will be the third meeting already this season between these teams, with each winning on their home court. In the two meetings, Brandon Roy is averaging an impressive 31 points per game, including a season-high 42 points in the 111-107 loss in Houston. The Trail Blazers have done an excellent job using their height advantage against Houston, as they have outrebounded the Rockets 88-65 in the two games.

    While the team seemed to play with a higher level of intensity and effort against Miami, the lack of execution on the defensive end proved to be too much to overcome. For the third straight game, the Trail Blazers opponent shot over 50%, with the Heat hitting 53.3% of their shots in the 107-100 victory. After the loss, Trail Blazers head coach lamented the inability to get everyone on the team clicking at the same time.

    "I've always felt that we need both units playing well and we just don't have enough guys playing well at the same time. We'll get three playing well or four or two and we need pretty much all of the guys we have to step in and play well, shoot well, defend well."

    In the loss to Miami, Greg Oden continued his incredible play on both ends of the court. Although he shot only 4-13 from the field, Oden still managed to score 13 points. However, his presence on the offensive and defensive glass is what made his performance so special. Oden pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds in the loss, with 11 of the rebounds being on the offensive glass. The 11 offensive rebounds matched a Trail Blazers franchise-high.

    The Trail Blazers also got a huge lift from both Juwan Howard and Andre Miller off the bench. Howard did an excellent job filling in for the injured LaMarcus Aldridge, scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting and pulling down five rebounds. Throughout the game, Miller made a clear effort to attack the rim and push the tempo whenever the opportunity presented itself. Miller scored 18 points and dished six assists in the loss.

    In order to get back to their winning ways, the Trail Blazers must do a better job defending Houston on the perimeter. In the 111-107 loss in Houston, the Rockets hit 12-24 from beyond the arc, with Trevor Ariza and Aaron Brooks hitting a combined 9-14. The duo of Ariza and Brooks combined for 61 points in the win on Halloween, and the Trail Blazers must make slowing them down a priority.

    Nicolas Batum, Jeff Pendergraph, Travis Outlaw, and Patty Mills will miss the game due to injury, while LaMarcus Aldridge is listed as day-to-day with his knee contusion. The game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet, with Mike Rice and Mike Barrett on the call. 95.5 FM The Game will have the radio broadcast, with Antonio Harvey and Brian Wheeler calling the game.


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