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

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

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

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

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