The Rockets will enter Saturday's game against the Trail Blazers at Moda Center with nine eligible players due to injuries and COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The NBA requires eight players to be active in order for a contest to be played.
This will be Houston's first game.
Their season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed due to their inability to have the necessary amount of players available.
Rockets superstar James Harden will be available to play Saturday following a $50k fine for violating COVID-19 protocols, but the team as a whole is not in the clear from positive COVID test results and others are forced to quarantine due to contact tracing.
Here is the full report of inactive players:
· Chris Clemons (right Achilles; surgery)
· DeMarcus Cousins (health and safety protocols)
· Eric Gordon (health and safety protocols)
· Mason Jones (health and safety protocols)
· Kenyon Martin Jr. (Not with team - self isolating)
· Ben McLemore (Not with team - self isolating)
· John Wall (health and safety protocols)
The Blazers have listed Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) and Nassir Little (Health and Safety Protocols) as out vs. Houston.
This is the first time in five games, preseason included, that Anfernee Simons (left hamstring strain) has been left off the injury report.
Portland is coming off a 20-point blowout loss to the Jazz in its home opener Wednesday.
With Harden wanting out of Houston and reportedly adding Portland as a team that he would accept in a trade, here’s what our Trail Blazers Insider, Dwight Jaynes had to say about the Harden situation:
"I’m not going to go into what sort of package it would take from the Trail Blazers to make such a trade. I don’t think that really has much to do with the big question, which is, how would he fit in Portland? And is it worth a try?
First, the positives:
- Harden is one of the most efficient offensive players of all time. He is the prototypical new-age statistical darling. He makes tough threes and can get to the basket. He can get his own shot. He can play long minutes. And when he wants to be, he’s a very good passer.
- He is under contract through the 2022-23 season.
- He is a full-fledged stat monster and superstar who is a six-time first-team all-NBA player who was once an MVP. He has led the league in scoring four times and traditionally leads it in three-point field goal attempts and makes. And also in free throws made and attempted
- He is a unique player who is virtually unguardable by just one player.
And now, the negatives:
- He has not distinguished himself in his attempts to get himself traded out of Houston -- reporting late to camp and reportedly out of shape, being caught without a mask in a club.
- He has seemingly been tough on teammates. It doesn’t seem as if the likes of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul enjoyed the Harden experience.
- In the last few seasons, his turnovers have almost equaled his assists.
- He is not known as a solid defender. Or even close to that.
- He needs the ball in his hands a lot -- his usage rate is very high. Do you want to see the ball in Damian Lillard’s hands less frequently?
- Would Lillard, whose personality and game seem in conflict with Harden's, be able to coexist with him?
- Could Harden handle the slow-paced life in Portland? And if not, would this be a short-term tenure on this team?"
Read more from Dwight here.
The Blazers are a –7.5 point favorite against the Rockets Saturday, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about the Trail Blazers second regular season game of the year --
- This will be the first of three meetings between Portland and Houston this season. The second matchup will take place on Jan. 28 while the third meeting will be part of the Second Half schedule.
- LAST SEASON: The Trail Blazers won the 2019-20 season series against Houston, 3-1. Portland has won three straight games against the Rockets.
- Damian Lillard averaged 23.8 points (38.7% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 89.7% FT), 8.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in four games against the Rockets last season. Lillard recorded his first career triple-double on Jan. 29, 2020 against Houston, finishing with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.
- Jusuf Nurkic recorded 18 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks against the Rockets on Aug. 4 in Orlando. • In four games against the Rockets last season, CJ McCollum averaged 22.8 points (48.6% FG, 35.5% 3-PT, 53.3% FT), 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
- James Harden averaged 22.5 points (39.4% FG, 34.4% 3-PT, 87.1% FT), 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in four games against Portland during the 2019-20 season.
- Christian Wood scored 26 points (9-15 FG, 2-4 3-PT, 6-7 FT) to go with nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks for the Pistons on Feb. 23, 2020 in his lone game against the Trail Blazers last season.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: -7.5 (-110) – Rockets +7.5 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Saturday, December 26
Where: Moda Center | Portland, OR
Start time: 7:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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