Rockets-Trail Blazers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 04, 2013
While the Houston Rockets pulled out two wins with James Harden sidelined, his all-around effort proved key during their latest victory. The Rockets try to win four straight for the first time in almost three months Friday night when they visit the injury-plagued and slumping Portland Trail Blazers. After beating the Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando with Harden sidelined due to a sore right foot, Houston's leading scorer returned Wednesday in a 112-102 win at Sacramento. Harden, averaging 25.9 points to rank fifth in the NBA, had 21, nine assists and seven rebounds. Chandler Parsons also came up big with 29 points after sitting out against the Magic with an illness. Houston hasn't posted four consecutive victories since a season best-tying five-game run Dec. 31-Jan. 8. "It was great to have James and Chandler back," said Omer Asik, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. "We knew we had to come in here and play hard." In seventh place in the Western Conference, the Rockets (42-33) have yet to clinch a playoff berth. Houston is three games ahead of the Lakers and one behind sixth-place Golden State. "This was a big win for us on the road," Harden said. "Golden State is doing a good job of keeping their lead and winning games. We need to do everything we can to keep winning going into the playoffs." Houston has to like its chances of keeping things going against Portland (33-42), which has been outscored by an average of 17.1 points during its skid. The Trail Blazers also lost a season-high seven straight Feb. 6-22. While LaMarcus Aldridge's possible return from a four-game absence due to a sprained ankle would surely help, Portland is likely to be without Nicolas Batum, who also missed Wednesday's 94-76 loss to Memphis with a labral tear in his shoulder. In addition to rookie of the year favorite Damian Lillard, the Blazers started two other first-year players against the Grizzlies. Meyers Leonard had 10 points and seven rebounds and Victor Claver scored seven. "You hate to lose and you hate to lose at home," coach Terry Stotts said. "You want to take away opportunities to teach and to get better particularly with the young guys. More importantly, I want to make sure we continue to play the right way, to play hard, to get better, all the things that you need to do." While their playoff hopes have all but faded, the 11th-place Blazers refuse to go down easy. "We just have to play for each other," said J.J. Hickson, who had 17 points and nine rebounds Wednesday. "You sit in the locker room and you look at guys, you look at the guy next to you. That's what it's all about. It's playing for us and not giving in. Just finish out the season strong to have some momentum for next year. We know the playoffs - it's getting gloomier and gloomier." Aldridge has averaged 29.0 points - 8.0 more than his season mark - on 53.5 percent shooting in three matchups against the Rockets this season. Batum averaged 25.3 in those games, including a career-high 35 in a 119-117 overtime victory Nov. 16. The Blazers also pulled out a 95-85 overtime road win Nov. 3, but they dropped the last matchup 118-103 at Houston on Feb. 8. Harden had 35 points and 11 assists that night. Portland will also need to be wary of Jeremy Lin, who's totaled 34 points and 21 assists in recording back-to-back double-doubles.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Louisiana governor warns that LSU football could be cut

Report: People with Warriors think they will get Durant

Joe Thomas: It’s a ‘sad end’ to Manziel story in Cleveland

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

Dwight Howard: ‘I have not asked the Rockets to trade me’

Nazem Kadri fined $5,000 for throat-slashing gesture

Hassan Whiteside suspended one game for elbowing Boban Marjanovic

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has torn labrum

Report: Antonio Tarver suspended six months, fined $50,000 for positive test

26% of Denver students skipped school for Broncos parade

Eight surprises, letdowns entering NBA All-Star break

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker