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How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

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How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

Now that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, let’s assess the West.

There was plenty of movement in the Western Conference in the last two days.

With the Trail Blazers making a deal with the Atalanta Hawks that sent big man Skal Labbisiere to Atlanta, the Hawks will be saving the Trail Blazers $2.8 million in luxury tax. 

In the deal, the Trail Blazers will also receive a protected second round pick in 2024 from Atlanta and a $2.4M trade exception. 

Heading into Thursday's trade deadline, the Trail Blazers were $11.3 million over the cap, with a tax luxury payment of close to $20 million. 

But, after Thursday's deal with Atlanta and the January 18th move that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyan Gabriel from Sacramento, Portland now sits just over $4 million over the cap, with a luxury tax bill of $5.9 million.

But, how do the rest of the West’s deals affect Portland?

Here’s a quick breakdown…

Since the San Antonio Spurs are currently one of the teams, just like Portland, on the verge of making the playoffs, could it mean that they are not looking to make the postseason since they didn’t make a move?

Possibly. 

The Spurs and Thunder are two teams out West that did not make any moves by the deadline, which is surprising considering San Antonio sits in the 10th spot and OKC is barely holding onto the sixth spot. The Thunder were rumored to be sellers at the trade deadline and eventually fall out of the playoff picture. They reportedly tried to get a multi-team deal done with the Heat that included Danilo Gallinari, but things fell through. 

Now, Portland must contend with an OKC Thunder team that stayed pat at the deadline. 

Portland is three games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

 

The bad news for the Blazers? The Grizzlies were making moves. A lot of them. Memphis was involved in a three-team trade where they received Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Gorgui Dieng.

Winslow has been dealing with various injuries, but can definitely help the young Memphis roster that has already proven to be better than most expected. At least this soon anyway. Winslow is averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

They're not expected to keep Dion Waiters, who has been a consistent disruption in the locker room. 

Memphis also made another move Thursday, acquiring former Oregon Ducks Jordan Bell from the Rockets in exchange for Bruno Caboclo.

With their moves, the Grizzlies get some help at the forward spot as they continue to solidify their playoff position.

As for the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves trade, this will affect the Blazers more so next season.

Since it seems these two teams are looking to the future and not worried about this season, the Warriors get some much needed frontcourt help and the Timberwolves get some much needed backcourt help. Golden State trading D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota for a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick, makes complete sense considering each teams needs with their current roster makeup.

So, as Portland worked to cut down it’s luxury tax, they will continue to push for that playoff spot with their current roster. But lest we forget, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both set to return before the postseason.

And, the Trail Blazers have looked like a team that has found a groove with their current roster of adding Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan into the mix, minus Tuesday’ loss at Denver.

For now, it’s about trying to beat out the Grizzlies and Spurs or any other team on the fringe in the West. With the trade deadline now behind us, it will be interesting to see if any of the bubble playoff teams in the Western Conference decide to go a different direction and not make a final push for the postseason.

Because, as long Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing, there is no doubt they will do everything in their power to get to the postseason.   

Former Duck Jordan Bell headed to Houston in four-team trade

Former Duck Jordan Bell headed to Houston in four-team trade

James Harden. Russell Westbrook. 

Now another legend is headed to Houston: Jordan Bell.

Bell, the former Oregon Ducks star, is part of a four-team trade which sent Robert Covington to Houston, Clint Capela and Nene Hilario to Atlanta, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt and a Hawks first-round pick to Minnesota, and Gerald Green, Keith Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier and a Houston first-round pick to Denver.

This will be the third NBA team Bell has played for since being selected 38th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. Bell played 57 games, starting 13 in his rookie season with the Golden State Warriors, becoming an NBA champion in his first year. His time on the court decreased the following season when Bell was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He signed with the Timberwolves the following offseason.

Bell saw some action in Minnesota while Wolves’ star Karl-Anthony Towns was injured, but with the big man back in the lineup, Bell’s minutes dropped immensely. In 27 games, Bell averaged 3.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists.

In Houston, he will be one of the tallest players on the team after the Rockets traded Clint Capela. At 6'8", Bell's role could increase, in part, because he's a bigger body.

At Oregon, Bell helped lead Oregon to the Final Four in his redshirt junior year. He was named second-team All-Pac-12 and earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

The Timberwolves are currently 14th in the West, so perhaps he was Saved by the Bell (zing!) when traded to the Rockets, a team vying for fifth in the conference. It’s too early to see how exactly Bell will fit into the Rockets’ rotation, but hopefully the former Duck will find more success with this time around. 

"It's about time!" Damian Lillard grabs elusive 10th rebound for triple-double

"It's about time!" Damian Lillard grabs elusive 10th rebound for triple-double

“One more rebound, one more rebound!”

That chant was heard echoing from Trail Blazers fans in the 300 levels at Moda Center at the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter Wednesday night.

Blazers fans were encouraging their All-Star point guard to complete something he had yet to accomplish: A triple-double.

He had yet to do until Wednesday night. 

Following the Blazers 125-112 victory over the Rockets, Carmelo Anthony strolled past Damian Lillard’s locker with a big smile on his face postgame while yelling, "DAME!!"

Portland not only handled Houston, but both Lillard and Anthony reached personal milestones.

Lillard notched his first career triple-double, while Anthony climbed to No. 16 on the all-time scoring list.    

That is not a typo.

Wednesday marked Lillard’s first triple-double in 594 games played.

He finished with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.

Fans and new teammates alike both shared their confusion that Lillard had never reached this milestone before.

Lillard felt the same.

It’s about time. It took eight years.

I think it’s been plenty of times where I could have just kind of hunted it – I’ve been two rebounds or one assist away, but it’s just something about I never wanted to go out there and just chase it. Just growing up, my dad would just always be on my case about playing the game the right way and letting it play out how it’s supposed to play out. So that’s kind of been my approach with the triple doubles and tonight, I was close but a lot of times where I was like—‘alright, tonight I can’t walk off the court stuck at nine with all this time. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard

The Blazers team captain snagged his ninth rebound with 4:38 remaining in the game.

But, it wasn’t until there was just 57.3 seconds left on the clock, when Lillard missed a tip shot to snag and offensive rebound to record that elusive 10th board.

And then the standing ovation occurred. 

That tip-in attempt had his teammates smiling after the game, though.

“I told him please go get the rebound, go get it,” Melo said with a big grin. “This time, tell me to get out of the way.”

CJ McCollum joked, “I didn’t even know. I was wondering why he jumped so high for that rebound.”

And, just like that it happened.

“Everybody was like, ‘Get one rebound, get one rebound.’ Lillard said. “So I was like, ‘Imma crash the offensive glass, get in position to defensive rebound’ and the last shot came off and I just jumped first and I got my hand on it and I tried to tip it in, boom.”

Boom, indeed.

Lillard has been within reach of this impressive feat 10 times in his career. He was either two rebounds or one assist shy of grasping that almighty accomplishment.

At the end of the third quarter Wednesday night, the triple-double watch started.

Lillard had 30 points, eight assists, and 7 rebounds through three quarters.

Wednesday’s achievement meant more to Lillard because it came in a win against a good team.

Not because it was against Russell Westbrook.

But man, isn’t that extremely storybook for Lillard to notch his first triple-double against Westbrook?

Yeah, it totally is; there’s no denying that.

“I was just playing the game. I was just making the plays that I saw, making the right passes and guys made shots,” Lillard said.

So what about it coming against Westbrook? Is there anything extra to it because of that?

 “I mean, not really,” Lillard said with an inexpressive face. “It was my first career triple double, it didn’t really matter who it was against. I’m just happy that it came in a win like you said, and just that it was a performance where it was needed. It wasn’t like we just came out here and blew a team out and I just benefited from it by just getting a stat line. I think it was a kind of team effort where it was a real game and it led to a win too.”

Lillard also set a new franchise record scoring 30+ points for the sixth straight game.

Plus, he really surprised his new teammates.

Trevor Ariza, who is already fitting in nicely after playing in just three games with the Blazers, was in disbelief that Lillard hadn’t recorded a triple-double before Wednesday night.

But, he was definitely happy for his new point guard.

“Yeah, I looked up and saw that he needed one rebound and it was exciting. I didn’t know it was his first one, I just thought it was another one he was going to rack up. It’s great, we had two historical nights, Melo moved up (on the scoring list), Dame got his first triple double, it’s exciting,” Ariza said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned how he is still surprised that this was Lillard’s first triple-double as well.  

“I’m happy for him,” Stotts said. “He’s been playing great, I’m glad they gave him that last tip as a rebound. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t had one before now. He plays an all-around game, but to get your first triple-double, on national TV against a really good team, it’s pretty cool.”

Not only is it storybook that this happened on a night against Westbrook, but it comes on the heels of Lillard earning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging over 52 points per game.

“He’s been locked in, playing at an elite level, this is his best basketball he’s played in his career. We needed every basket, every assist, and every rebound,” McCollum said.

The Lillard takeover continues. 

Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazer bench combine with Lillard to throttle Houston

Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazer bench combine with Lillard to throttle Houston

Certainly it was Damian Lillard’s night. The red-hot Portland guard posted his first career triple-double topped by 36 points, but there was much more to the Trail Blazer story Wednesday night.

The oft-maligned Portland bench, led by Gary Trent and Nassir Little, chipped in 13 points in a 41-24 Trail Blazer blitz in the second quarter that turned the game around after an agonizing first five and a half minutes.

The Blazers needed more than two minutes to score their first points of the game and five and a half minutes to make their second field goal, but things got a whole lot better in that second period.

Trent, getting regular minutes in the rotation recently, went 2-2 from three-point range, had two assists and two steals in the quarter -- finishing a plus-16 in that period. Little was also plus-16 and made his only shot.

Lillard had nine in that quarter and Trevor Ariza got six, along with a team-best plus-17 for the quarter.

Ariza’s presence in the starting lineup has made a world of difference for Portland, with not only his added size but his basketball intelligence.

“Somebody like Trevor, who knows the game, you don’t have to tell him multiple times what to do,” said Carmelo Anthony, who moved into 17th place (passing Kevin Garnett) on the all-time NBA scoring list at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter. “He just knows how to play the game.

“He knows how to play off people. For the younger guys, seeing that stuff really helps. You can’t teach it. He just knows.”

Ariza, who made nine of his 13 shots, half of his six threes, and chased James Harden all over the court most of the game, finished with 21 points and more alert plays at both ends of the court than you could count.

He credited his teammates for his ease with fitting into the team’s suddenly very solid starting lineup.

“The players,” he said. “These guys have a very high IQ and are very talented and all I have to do is catch the ball and shoot it, or get the ball and put it in the basket, or rebound and make simple plays.”

Hassan Whiteside also played a big role in this one, as Coach Terry Stotts stayed with his big man even when Houston went to smaller lineups.

“I thought Dame did a nice job of finding him and he was able to finish around the basket,” Stotts said. “Those were some big plays that he made -- the finishes and the ‘and-ones.’ He did a nice job with that.”

Whiteside had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots and a team-high plus-18. And it appeared Harden wanted no part of him at the basket.

“Yeah, that’s my job,” Whiteside said. “I feel like I’m the best at doing it. Just protecting that paint.”

Whiteside pointed to Ariza as a difference-maker.

“He’s the ultimate three-and-D guy,” Whiteside said. “He’s out there playing amazing defense -- doing a great job.”

And suddenly, Lillard is getting enough help to make this team competitive.

Harden finished with 18 points, going 5-18 from the field and 2-8 from long range.

The Trail Blazers meet the Lakers in Staples Center Friday night -- a game that probably no team in the league wanted to play. It's the Lakers' first home game since Kobe Bryant's death.

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard making history AGAIN

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Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard making history AGAIN

That's a wrap on Portland's four-game homestand. 

After a slow start against the Houston Rockets, the Trail Blazers went on a 10-4 run to finish the first quarter down by just six.

Houston held a 12-point lead in the first quarter, but thanks to the Blazers defense down low and a scoring tear in the second quarter (41 points), Portland held a 71-60 halftime lead.

If it weren’t for the Blazers quick six turnovers to start third quarter, Portland would’ve blown the game wide open much sooner.

The Trail Blazers now improve to 5-3 in their last eight games. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 125, Rockets 112

Here are three quick takeaways from Wednesday's win:

1.  The Lillard vs. Westbrook Show

Just ask former NBA player Kendrick Perkins:

It’s fun to watch Damian Lillard battle it out with Russell Westbrook.

The two did not disappoint Wednesday night.

Damian Lillard finished the first quarter with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Lillard not only had it going from three-point range, he was also finding his teammates all night. 

Trevor Ariza, Hassan Whiteside, and CJ McCollum were often the beneficiaries of Lillard’s dimes.

Westbrook and Lillard were neck and neck when it came to who was going to be the leading scorer for the game.

But, heading into the fourth quarter, it was triple-double watch time for Lillard. To end the third, he had 30 points, eight assists, and 7 rebounds. Lillard reached the impressive feat for the first time in his career when he attempted a putback tip-in in the final minute, which was his 10th rebound on the night. 

2. Rockets fire away from three, per usual

Houston’s three-point shooting kept the Rockets in the game early on. At the break, Houston was shooting 42.3 percent from long distance.  

Ben McLemore gave the Rockets a big boost off the bench with his 12 first quarter points all coming from behind the arc.

Eric Gordon, who got the start for the Rockets and was coming off a 50-point performance, struggled from three against the Blazers.  

3.  Ariza making a difference

One of the newest Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, made his presence felt on both ends of the court. Ariza used his lengthy arms to snag the ball or at least get a handful of tips on the night. On the other end, the 6-foot-8 veteran forward notched 18 points through the first three quarters on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting.

Ariza is averaging 6.5 points on the season. 

Up Next: Portland visits the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. The Blazers and Lakers tip-off at 7:00p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest.

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!

Carmelo Anthony passes Kevin Garnett, climbing all-time scoring list

Carmelo Anthony passes Kevin Garnett, climbing all-time scoring list

Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony continues to climb the scoring ladder.

With six points in the first half of Wednesday night’s Blazers and Rockets game, Melo moved up to number 18 on the NBA All-Time Scoring list.

With 26,072 career points and counting Anthony surpasses Kevin Garnett.

Here’s a look at the NBA's all-time scoring list:

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387
  2. Karl Malone 36,928
  3. Kobe Bryant 33,643
  4. LeBron James 33,532
  5. Michael Jordan 32,292
  6. Dirk Nowitzki 31,560
  7. Wilt Chamberlain 31,419
  8. Shaquille O’Neal 28,596
  9. Moses Malone 27,409
  10. Elvin Hayes 27,313
  11. Hakeem Olajuwon 26,946
  12. Oscar Robertson 26,710
  13. Dominique Wilkins 26,668
  14. Tim Duncan 26,496
  15. Paul Pierce 26,397
  16. John Havlicek 26,395
  17. Carmelo Anthony 26,072+
  18. Kevin Garnett 26,071

With Melo averaging 16.1 points per game this season, he stands a good chance of reaching No.13 by end of the season.

It was just a couple of weeks ago vs. Dallas on Jan. 17th when Melo made the move from No. 19 to 18 on the scoring list.

Next, up, John Havlicek... and beyond. 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Rockets operating at full strength

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Rockets operating at full strength

The Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App at 7:00pm tonight.

Before the game tipped off, both coaches gave updates on the matchup.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts described the battles between Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, saying, “you can see it out on the court.”

While Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said that James Harden will get the start despite being listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a thigh contusion. D’Antoni added that Eric Gordon will start in place of Danuel House following Gordon’s 50-point performance.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

HEAR FROM COACH D'ANTONI HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Wednesday’s game vs. Houston.

ROCKETS INJURY REPORT:

James Harden (left thigh contusion) and Clint Capela (right heel contusion) are available. Nene (left adductor strain) and Gerald Green (left cuneiform fracture) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Wednesday’s game will be the third of four matchups between the Trail Blazers and Rockets during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Trail Blazers defeated the Rockets 117-107, in Houston on Jan. 15. Damian Lillard led Portland with 25 points (8-20 FG, 1-8 3-PT, 8-8 FT), seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Russell Westbrook paced Houston with 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting (2-5 3-PT, 7-12 FT), to go with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

-- Houston’s starting lineups have averaged 91.9 ppg this season while the Trail Blazers starting lineups have averaged 86.0 ppg. They rank first and second in the NBA, respectively.

-- Damian Lillard has scored at least 20 point in eight of his last 10 appearances against the Rockets. In two games against Houston this season, Lillard has averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.00 steal.

-- CJ McCollum recorded 24 points (9-18 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 3-4 FT), six assists and two steals against the Rockets on Jan. 15. McCollum has hit three or more three-pointers in four of his last five games against Houston, going 14-of-32 (43.8%) from deep over those four games.

-- James Harden scored 13 points (3-12 FG, 1-6 3-PT, 6-8 FT) to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocks against the Trail Blazers on Jan. 15. It was his second lowest-scoring game this season (12, Jan. 24 at Min.).

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets tonight at 7:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets tonight at 7:00pm

The Trail Blazers (20-27) are coming off a 139-129 victory over the Indiana Pacers, as Damian Lillard continues his scoring tear.

Now Portland will host the Houston Rockets (29-17) Wednesday night.

It was just two weeks ago that the Blazers went into Houston and stunned the Rockets beating them 117-107. After the victory, the Blazers credited their defense to why they were able to come away with the win, using their diamond defense to hold the Rockets to 39.6 percent shooting and James Harden to 13 points.

You can watch all the action between Portland and Houston on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?  

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Rockets

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

And, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

QUOTABLE

When you playing and you just trying to do whatever you can to win the game, it kind of sets in later. Like, at first, it was like a crazy run and then you see the numbers and then, I saw a picture of just them saying I was Player of the Week and I just saw the stat line and I was like- '52 points- that’s a lot, that’s crazy.’ Like, when I actually saw it I was just like that’s kind of crazy.” -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on his recent performance  

If James Harden plays, will the Trail Blazers have another diamond for him?

If James Harden plays, will the Trail Blazers have another diamond for him?

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Trail Blazers went into Houston and stunned the Rockets 117-107, using gimmicky defenses to hold the home team to 39.6 percent shooting and James Harden to 13 points.

Portland employed a rarely used diamond-and-one defense against the Rockets, defending Harden with a player -- usually Kent Bazemore, who is no longer on the team -- and getting help for him from the four other Blazer players stationed in a diamond-shaped zone defense.

Other times, Portland sent random double-teams after Harden or used other forms of zones.

Harden, who has missed his team’s last two games due to a thigh bruise, went only 3-13 from the field in that loss to the Trail Blazers, 1-6 from three-point range and was just beginning a stretch where he’s had shooting problems.

In his last nine games, Harden has averaged 2.6 three-point field goals made on 22.3 percent shooting -- after shooting 42.2 percent on 5.7 attempts per game in his previous 28 games.

Would the Trail Blazers give those defenses an encore performance Wednesday night against the Rockets in Moda Center?

“We’ll try it,” Coach Terry Stotts said after practice Tuesday. “I’m sure they’ll be prepared for it. We don’t know if Harden is playing or not but we’ll give it a shot. Having Trevor (Ariza) gives us a different dimension, so we’ll see.”

Harden, Russell Westbrook (rest) and Clint Capela (right heel contusion) sat out Houston’s game at Utah Tuesday night and then the Rockets got a career-high 50 points from Eric Gorden to beat the Jazz 126-117.

Both Harden and Capela were listed Tuesday as “questionable” for the game against the Trail Blazers.

“Having Harden play or not play changes the dynamics for them and so it changes them for us,” Stotts said.

The Rockets shoot a lot of three-point field goals but Stotts said that doesn’t apply pressure to his team to match their three-point output.

“It’s important to play our style,” Stotts said. “If we can get some open threes… the challenge against them isn’t necessarily shooting threes, it’s that they do a lot of switching (on defense) and staying engaged and they kind of force you to play one-on-one at times.

“It’s just the challenge of playing against them and attacking them in the best way possible. If it means shooting more threes, so be it.”

Morning After: Everything you missed from the Blazers win over the Rockets

Morning After: Everything you missed from the Blazers win over the Rockets

The Blazers headed to Houston to start yet another road trip, the first of three straight games on the road. 

The Rockets were heavily favored in this one, but games aren't played and decided by Vegas betting odds. 

The Blazers jumped on the Rockets early. Portland led after the first quarter and had a double-digit lead by halftime. 

In his first game in Houston since being let go by the team last season, Carmelo Anthony balled out. The Blazes power forward scored 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, adding 12 rebounds as well. 

Damian Lillard had a near triple-double with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, and CJ McCollum dropped 24 points of his own. 

The real story here was the team's defense on Rockets star James Harden. Portland held Harden to just 3 of 12 shooting and a season-low 13 points. 

The Rockets tried to mount a comeback more than once, but every time they did the Blazers had an answer.

Final Score in Houston: Blazers 117 - Rockets 107

QUOTABLES:

Carmelo Anthony on return to Houston:

I kind of got past all of that -- the time that I was off, the time that I did have to kind of think about that situation. And, I had dealt with every emotion that you could think about -- trying to figure out why, questioning myself at the beginning -- working so hard to get past that and kind of be at peace with that.

Damian Lillard on game plan vs James Harden:

We gave him a lot of attention...We pretty much decided we were going to live with somebody else beating us and it turned out to be a pretty good game plan. Our coaches came up with a great defensive game plan.

Damian Lillard on the win:

We just had good fight, we had good energy, and a good presence about us, I think.  Even in our meeting today, we kind of talked through stuff. Before the game, it was pretty quiet. You can tell, coming off the win against Charlotte – we came into this trip wanting to start off on the right foot and I thought our effort on the floor showed that.

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