The Rockets are tough on any night, let alone the second game of a back-to-back, but on Saturday the Blazers found a way to take them down. James Harden had a rough first half, allowing the Blazers to get out to an early lead, and they never let go of it. Jusuf Nurkic scored more than 20 points for the third consecutive game, and the Blazers looked as good as they have all season.
Here are some quick thoughts from our reporters on the scene...
Dwight Jaynes, Trail Blazers' Insider: All in all, great job on Harden, who had an awful night. Very inefficient night for him. Nurkic a good game against their attempts to muscle him. Portland rebounding was big and second chance points. Bench held its own too.
Jamie Hudson, Trail Blazers' Reporter: The Rockets were only in the game in the first quarter thanks to Austin Rivers. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from three in the first. And despite, James Harden having an off shooting night, that did not stop him from continuing to throw up shots. 'Shooters gonna shoot' and Harden is always known to have no fear with his attempts ending up on the high side. This game looked similar to Friday night's loss to the Thunder after the Blazers had led by as many as 16 vs. Houston and then the Rockets came back to make it an interesting fourth quarter. Unlike, Friday's game though, the Blazers went through Jusuf Nurkic more than usual late in this game. CJ McCollum was also able to create for himself and came up with a couple of big buckets to help Portland secure the win.
Mike Richman, Trail Blazers' Reporter: Evan Turner defended James Harden about as well as you possibly can, Jusuf Nurkic was a beast inside and CJ McCollum hit some timely baskets to keep the Rockets from coming all the way back. The Blazers beat a good team without an A-plus, or even a B-plus game from Damian Lillard, which is a good sign even if it feels like a bad one.
***Be sure to check back here throughout tonight for locker room videos with Coach Stotts and the players, plus locker room reports from Jamie Hudson and Dwight Jaynes***
NEXT UP: The Blazers reaming at home and play host to the New Tork Knicks on Monday, January 7th. Tip-off is set for 7:00pm with coverage beginning at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
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