Simply put, this was a bad loss. The Houston Rockets fell to 20-23 after a pair of prayers from Portland sent the game into overtime. The Portland Trail Blazers rode the momentum off of Malcolm Brogdon and Jerami Grant’s last second threes in regulation and clinched a 137-131 victory.
Houston’s hopes of righting this recent stretch of rough losses was on the verge of being answered until the aforementioned clutch shots from Portland.
Tonight was indicative of a Rockets team that has lacked the same intensity on defense and consistency that got them off to a promising start. The poor showing becomes even more frustrating when you remember that the Blazers rank worst in the league in scoring and field goal percentage.
Coming off a controversial loss the night before, Portland didn’t look like a team that is now 13-31. Anfernee Simons continued to show why Portland felt comfortable enough leaving him the keys in the wake of Damian Lillard’s exit this past offseason.
This was also pretty deflating considering that this was one of Jalen Green’s best performances this season. While his 29 points on 12-24 FG aren’t the best stat line he’s put up this year, I was encouraged with the urgency he moved with in this game.
Whether it was back cuts, curls around the ball handler, running to his spot, or sprinting to meet Simons in pick and roll situations, Green was hustling. There were even a handful of times that Green and Alperen Sengun connected for big moments in the game, a Rockets fan’s smorgasbord.
Speaking of Alpy, he had another exquisite showing, previewing why he’s a future All-Star. He came close to recording a second straight triple-double with 30 points 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
However, I do ding him for failing to keep Deandre Ayton off of the boards. I know the box score says Ayton put up 18 points and pulled 17 rebounds, but I still don’t believe it. He spends large stretches of the game looking like he’s the “I’m just here to make sure my paystub is correct” guy.
The ageless Jeff Green provided some highlights as he got the start in place of Jabari Smith Jr., but Bari’s presence probably would have flipped the result of this one.
Another point of interest in this game was the first half matchup featuring two of the top four picks from last year’s draft, Scoot Henderson and Amen Thompson. Amen played with an edge that I can’t wait to see him get to more consistently as time goes on.
You could tell that he gets up for the games against his peers. His defensive pursuit of the ball was on show as he probably could have had more blocks than the one he was credited for.
I also think Cam Whitmore was the best rookie out there tonight for either side. He continued to display his bright future as an explosive shotmaker and I’m hoping the both of their roles continue to expand as Udoka searches for answers.
However, none of that was enough for Houston to avoid tripping over their feet at the finish line. And here I am again, lamenting over being piss poor from downtown. While the defense has not held the standard it was earlier this season, I’m not worried because we know it can be elite and help is on the way. As for the three-point shooting...it beats me.
At the end of the day this was a bad loss. Houston played with their food and ended up being the prey.