Trail Blazers vs Rockets Tuesday, 03/01/11 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers Derailed For Second Night

03/02/11
  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 4.5

    Luis Scola scored 21 points and six rebounds and Kyle Lowry matched 21 points and a game-high 11 assists for the Houston Rockets to prevent a season sweep and derail the Portland Trail Blazers, 103-85, at the Rose Garden on Tuesday.

    “I don’t recognize that team,” said Trail Blazers’ Head Coach Nate McMillan of his jarred players. “I think we’re thinking about ‘me’ as opposed to, you go out there and you play and you do the things you’ve been doing.”

    The Trail Blazers (33-27) were on the verge of sweeping the Rockets (31-31) for the first time since the 1990-91 season, but fell short, 2-1, to another off night. 

    “Really, this was a repeat of last [night’s] game,” said McMillan, referring to the loss to Atlanta. “I don’t know where our swagger, our spirit–we look like we’re not having fun.”

    Nicolas Batum scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and three 3-pointers, while also grabbing four rebounds. Gerald Wallace scored a double-double with 14 points, including three long balls, a team-high 10 rebounds and three steals and LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 points, three rebounds and five assists as the Trail Blazers capped off their homestand 2-3.

    Portland, which shot 43.2 percent from the field, faced a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter as Scola, who shot 10-of-11, dropped in a finger roll for the team's largest lead, 91-72, with 7:33 remaining. 

    Batum fought back with a jumper and then connected from three as the Trail Blazers pulled within 91-77. But Courtney Lee, who had 10 points off the bench, and Kevin Martin, who scored 20 points and four assists, drilled back-to-back threes to drop Portland for its second game in a row.

    The Trail Blazers are stuck wondering what has thrown off their flow after completing just 5-of-17 in the third quarter and finishing the game with 16 turnovers that gave up just as many points.

    “I felt like tonight, we looked flat,” said Aldridge. “I definitely looked flat and felt flat. I felt like guys were out there thinking a lot rather than playing.”

    In the third, Chase Budinger, who ended with 14 points and four rebounds, scored six straight points for the Rockets, who shot 57.9 percent from the floor, to open the quarter and extend their lead to 17. Aldridge, muscled his way to eight points in the period, but Houston maintained a double-digit lead.

    Wallace found his stride from long range, connecting on two consecutive threes to rally the Trail Blazers back within 11. Andre Miller, who ended with 13 points and six assists, scored five in the quarter, along with Batum, to go into the final period down 83-68. 

    “We’ve been a team that scrapped and [had] movement and energy and hustle,” said McMillan. “Our last two games, we haven’t been close to that.”

    Portland came within seven before halftime before Lowry, who led Houston with 13 points and six assists at the break, drilled a three and Martin put in a lay-in to go up 53-42.

    “I think we’re playing with a sense of urgency every single possession,” said Lowry. “We have confidence in each other, and we know exactly what we want to do and how we’re going to do it.” 

    Aldridge tried to position himself in the paint, but was met many times by mutliple defenders. Houston won the battle near the rim, 52-26 points in the paint.

    "I think teams are trying to take me out and make me make good reads and make us make plays," said Aldridge. "They did it tonight too."

    Patty Mills, who chipped in with eight points off the bench, tired to give the Trail Blazers a boost with four points in the second, but the Trail Blazers went on a drought in the last four minutes of the second before Miller woke his team back up with a jumper. 

    “We’re not even close to what we saw tonight,” said McMillan. “I know we’re better than that.”

    Scola shot 5-of-5 in the opening quarter for 10 points, lifting the Rockets 18-13 midway through the period. Batum found his way to seven points, including a three, but Portland converted 6-of-14 to trail by five.

    Wallace scored five points in the last two minutes of the first to help the Trail Blazers connect on five of their last six shots. But Lowry nailed back-to-back threes to cushion the Rockets’ lead 30-26.  

    “That’s not us,” said McMillan. “We’ve gotten to this point with scrappy play and being connected. That wasn’t good out there.”

    The Trail Blazers will have to regain their composure quickly on the road as they travel to Sacramento to take on the Kings in a back-to-back on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

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