Found November 03, 2012 on
NorthWest Sports Beat:
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Lakers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Time for Road Redemption
The Portland Trail Blazers looked outstanding in their opening-night matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, but a lack of depth on the roster was exposed in their first road contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Can they take down a team more on their level come Saturday night?
Matchup: Portland (1-1) @ Houston Rockets (2-0)
Venue: Toyota Center, HOUSTON, TX.
Time: 5:00 PM PT
Date: Nov. 3, 2012
The team is going to need more bench production against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, and the starters must handle the pressures of the road better if they hope to escape the Toyota Center with a win.
The Trail Blazers play the Rockets in the second game of a back-to-back. Photo: Jaime Valdez-US PRESSWIRE
Game Notes/How They Match Up
The Trail Blazers and the Rockets are two teams who could be fighting for the same playoff spot come the end of the season. Both rosters have a drastically different look than they did last year, and both units are in rebuilding mode. Each team has a plethora of young prospects, but it’s the Rockets who added a max-contract player in James Harden and another free-agent pickup in Jeremy Lin.
Both of these teams are playing in their second of a back-to-back, but you won’t be able to tell considering the youth on each roster. Both the Blazers and the Rockets are centered around a young core, and with infinite amounts of energy throughout the rotation, this game should be up-tempo from beginning to finish.
These two teams are going to be considered fringe playoff squads at best until they can prove themselves otherwise. The Blazers couldn’t take down a perennial contender in their matchup against the Thunder, but whatever the result ends up being in this game, it will tell us much more about where they stand against “someone their own size” to begin the season.
What to Watch: Portland
The Blazers played solid defense in the first half against the Thunder, but they’re still allowing too many points to be succesful. On the perimeter, Wesley Matthews has looked quick and strong to start the year, but he’s going to be given a tough assignment in Houston against Harden.
Nicolas Batum is the kind of player who has all the tools in the world to be a great defensive player, but he’s yet to show he can execute on that side of the floor on a regular basis. Houston should look to get out in transition, so preventing fast break points is going to be crucial come Saturday.
The other area to watch is bench production. The starters scored all 42 points for Portland in the first half against OKC, and the reserves finished with an insignificant 15 points. The young starting five can only carry the team so far, and a game against an inexperienced Rockets team should be a good opportunity for the bench to get involved.
What to Watch: Houston
At this point in the year, the main story in Houston is Harden. He is averaging 41 points per game through his first two contests, and he is showing that he truly deserves the max contract that he signed upon his arrival.
James Harden is averaging 41.0 points per game to begin the season. Photo: Rick Osentoski/US PRESSWIRE
His efficiency might be what’s most impressive, so if the Blazers are going to slow him down, they must make him take tough shots.
Although the Rockets aren’t going to be known this season for posting up down low, there’s a good chance they’ll score in the paint because of the slashing ability and isolation style Harden plays. He is a great perimeter scorer, but he can be a threat to score down low in the same fashion as a Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
This game could very well come down to how well the Blazers defend Harden. He has quickly deemed himself the main scoring option for the Rockets, and he is showing he can be a leader amongst a group of lesser-experienced rotation players.
Wesley Matthews is going to be given the assignment here, and it will be a battle between a great perimeter scorer and a very good perimeter defender.
Physically, these two players are as similar as can be. They both measure in at 6’5”, they both weigh in at 220 pounds and they both run all over the floor making plays from start to finish. Statistically, Harden may have the edge, but that’s what Matthews will try and bring to a halt on Saturday.
Portland: OUT—Elliot Williams, PROBABLE—Ronnie Price
Houston: DOUBTFUL—Greg Smith
The Blazers won’t post up much in this matchup, but if they can find a balance between scoring in transition and getting LaMarcus Aldridge his looks outside, the team from Portland should come out on top in a tightly contested battle.
Blazers 103 – Rockets 100
CLICK HERE CHECK OUT OUR TRAIL BLAZERS BLOG AT THE NWSB!
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Oklahoma City Thunder fans learned early on in James Harden's career to fear the beard. It appears that the rest of the league's fans are on notice now.
Harden had a monster game his first time out in a Rockets jersey, dropping 37 points and 12 assists on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. For his next act, Harden -- and his tremendous beard -- will...
For those that thought being a first-offensive option wouldn’t garner enormous numbers for James Harden’s first game with his new team, the Houston Rockets, looked foolish last night as he dropped a rare stat line against the Detroit Pistons. In fact his 37 points 14-for-25 from the field, 6 rebounds, 12 assists, and 4 steals [...]The post NBA Star of the Night: James Harden...
With a new team and a new role, James Harden looked as comfortable as could be.
Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a sensational debut for Houston, and Carlos Delfino made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets to a 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth, but Harden and Delfino brought the Rockets...
The Oklahoma City Thunder got its first taste Thursday night of life without James Harden, part of a buzzer-beating 86-84 loss that should drive home the obvious and its consequences: A new era in Thunder basketball has begun, and that's one of several reasons the Western Conference is now up for grabs.
We're just a few games into the season, yes, but Oklahoma City's...
Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Harden ready for lift off
OK, I am done with the Rockets puns for now. The story of the day in the NBA though was James Harden's debut in a Rockets uniform. It was only four days ago that Harden was surprisingly traded from the Thunder to the Rockets. He has barely had time...
James Harden has put on quite a show in each of his first two games with the Houston Rockets.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is only starting to get comfortable.
Harden looks to continue his remarkable play Saturday night as the undefeated Rockets open their home schedule against the Portland Trail Blazers, who haven't experienced much success during their last several...
Maybe if the Thunder made James Harden their feature player they would have won the NBA championship, ha! Last night, in his Rocket’s debut, Jimmy Beard lit up the night posting 37/6/12 with 4 steals and 4 threes on 14-25 FG in a whopping 44 minutes. The guy didn’t come off the court, son! After the game Jeremy Lin said James better go for 40 points and 15 dimes every night because...
The 2012-13 NBA season has begun. We’re two days in, and all we know is that the Los Angeles Lakers are 0-2 and stink and that the Rockets might have made the best trade of all-time after landing James Harden. Okay, well maybe that’s a knee-jerk reaction. The Lakers haven’t looked great, but it’s still [...]
ATLANTA -- James Harden picked up where he left off after his eye-popping 37-point debut against the Pistons on Halloween, scoring 45 points to lead Houston Rockets to a 109-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Jeremy Lin added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Omer Asik had a career-high 19 rebounds. Josh Smith led the Hawks' frantic fourth-quarter comeback, giving the Hawks an...
James Harden paid immediate dividends for the Houston Rockets.
The new-look Atlanta Hawks hope their offseason moves will give them the financial flexibility to move in a more successful direction.
Harden will look to build on an impressive team debut Friday night when the host Hawks kick off their 2012-13 season.
Just four days after being acquired from Oklahoma City in a surprising...
The city of Houston is buzzing. With the fanfare that always seems to accompany Jeremy Lin since his anointment last year, and the acquisition of James Harden followed by two monster games, The Rockets have not garnered this type of attention in years. Amidst all of the excitement, several Rockets role players are ready to [...]
Fear The Beard? Not PDX
The Portland Trail Blazers have impressed early in the 2012-13 season, and that trend was no different on the road against the Houston Rockets.
Both teams are now 2-1 on the season, but only the Blazers escaped Saturday night with a hard-fought victory.
The final score was 95-85 in Portland’s favor, and there were a handful of key elements to the victory...