Trail Blazers vs Rockets Saturday, 11/03/12 AT 05:00PM

Trail Blazers In Houston To Face Red Hot Rockets

11/03/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Tonight the Portland Trail Blazers play on the second night of a back-to-back against the red hot Houston Rockets. After facing the Lakers, the defending Western Conference champion Thunder they get to face the team that his now the talk of the league in the Houston Rockets. The game will air at 5PM on CSNNW and can be heard on 620 AM KPOJ.

    • The Trail Blazers have to get their shots going again. After shooting 45% from three against the Lakers and 50% from the field as well as getting 44 points in the paint, the Trail Blazers went ice cold in Oklahoma City. They shot 36% from the field, 34% from beyond the arc and only got 24 points in the paint compared to 44 from Oklahoma City.

    • The Trail Blazers need their starting wing players to have a bounce-back game tonight. Nicolas Batum had a rough game after putting together one of the best all-around performances of his career on Wednesday night. Batum went 1 for 11 from the field and seemed out of rhythm the whole night. Batum will need to be active on the boards and on defense again and hopefully that will get him into the flow offensively again. Matthews was red hot to start the Oklahoma City game hitting for four of his first five three-point attempts but in the second half he went ice cold missing his last four attempts. Matthews was five for 15 from the field and will need to get back to shooting a high percentage if Portland wants to hang with the league’s most talked about backcourt.

    • Why is Houston the talk of the league? After their blockbuster trade for James Harden only a week ago, a much larger amount of attention was on the Rockets. Houston and Harden have responded with two road wins to start the season and Harden has put together dominant performances in both games. In his first game against Detroit he finished with 37 points and 12 assists and followed that performance up with 45 points last night against Atlanta. Oh, and in addition to Harden, Jeremy Lin is putting up great numbers as well. Lin finished with a line of 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists last night to go with Harden’s 45. The Rockets will try to pick-and-roll the Trail Blazers to death tonight with Harden and Lin.

    • Portland needs to keep the rebounding battle within reach. Through two games, Houston is 3rd in the league in rebounds per game and new free agent acquisition Omer Asik has been a beast on the boards, averaging 14 per game including 19 last night. JJ Hickson has done a good job two games in a row being active on the boards, getting double-digit rebounds both games. He and Aldridge will need to continue to hit the boards as they did last night but they will need a total team effort to fight that battle as through two games they are only 28th in the league in rebounds per game.

    • The Trail Blazers need to improve defensively. Yes, this is a simple statement but if the they are going to continue playing at a top-ten pace in the league they need to be better on the defensive end. Thus far they have a top-five offense, averaging 109.7 points per 100 possessions but their defense ranks 25th through two games, giving up 111.8 points per 100 possessions.

    • Another game, another great point guard match-up for Damian Lillard. Lillard has now faced Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and now he gets to face Jeremy Lin coming off a 21-10-7 night. Both Lin and Lillard will be working the pick-and-roll against each other all night long. Lillard is coming off another solid performance where he had 21 points, seven assists and only two turnovers. The rookie is averaging 22 points and 9 assists through two games.

    • Portland needs their All-Star to work harder for better shots. Thus far he is averaging 9.5 attempts between 16-23 feet and shooting over 50 %, but that isn’t his problem area. In the previous game against Oklahoma City he only had three shots at the rim and was atrocious between the basket and 16 feet where he was one of 9. Aldridge averaged over five attempts per game at the rim last season and over six attempts there in 2011. Through two games, Aldridge has taken more than double the attempts between 10-15 feet than he has from 3-9 feet (2-4 from 3-9 feet and 2-10 from 10-15 feet). Last season Aldridge only averaged 3.1 attempts per game from 10-15 feet and the year before it was even lower at 2.5 attempts per game. It seems opponents have forced him into those areas but an All-Star like Aldridge needs to impose his will a little more and get to his spots.  If Aldridge can couple higher percentage attempts closer to the basket with his high percentage shooting from 16-23 feet he has had thus far this season, watch-out because he will be nearly unstoppable. Although he has been off at the rim, going 3-8 so far this season, conventional wisdom and statistics suggest he should get back near the high sixties/low seventies percentage he has shot in that area throughout his career.  Asik will likely have the assignment of guarding him and that will be a tough match-up for Aldridge, however, if Portland wants to win Aldridge needs to have more efficient offensive outings.



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