Rockets vie to recover in trip to Portland
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets emphatically lost their first game of the season Monday night, but will try to get back into the win column when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Rockets took their 3-0 record into game two of a western trip and got creamed by the Los Angeles Clippers 137-118. The 137 points against were the most since the Dallas Mavericks put up 156 in a double-overtime win.
Even last season's team, which ranked 28th in the NBA in opponents' scoring, didn't allow that many. This team now has a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard, but it didn't matter.
The Clippers, the league's best scoring squad, thanks to Monday's outburst, scored 42 points in the first quarter and had 78 at the half.
"We couldn't get a handle on them at all tonight. They did whatever they wanted," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "We couldn't get our footing defensively, at all."
Howard and James Harden both got into early foul trouble and Houston never recovered.
Seven Rockets scored in double figures against the Clippers, the NBA's worst defensive team in opponents' scoring. Omri Casspi led Houston with 19 points, followed by 15 from Harden and 14 apiece from Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Francisco Garcia. Howard finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Tuesday's tilt with the Blazers ends a three-game stop out west.
Portland is 2-1 thanks to a great weekend. They toppled the Denver Nuggets by 15 in Denver on Friday, then came back and bested the San Antonio Spurs by 10 on Saturday.
The Blazers starters were sensational on Saturday. All five scored in double figures, led by Nicolas Batum's triple-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, although he took an unnecessary, late 3-pointer to get the needed points.
"I know that's a bad thing to do," said Batum. "I don't want to disrespect this team."
Damian Lillard was Portland's leading scorer with 25 points, followed by 24 from LaMarcus Aldridge and 20 from Wesley Matthews. Robin Lopez chipped in 12 and Mo Williams had 13 off the bench.
Williams has certainly improved a woefully bad second unit, but all five Blazers starters logged over 33 minutes against San Antonio.
Houston has won six of the last eight in this series and four of its last five in Portland.
11/05 10:32:48 ET