After nearly two weeks at home, the Portland Trail Blazers (9-7) now embark on a six-game road trip tipping off in Houston.
Portland is coming off a sluggish start against the Oklahoma City Thunder that resulted in a 125-122 loss.
But now with two days in between games, the Blazers were focused on getting their bodies right with many players dealing with nagging injuries including Derrick Jones Jr. and Damian Lillard.
As for the Rockets (7-9), Houston is riding a three-game winning streak with their most recent win Tuesday night at home against the Washington Wizards. Behind John Wall and Victor Oladipo’s combined 44 points, the Rockets beat Russell Westbrook and the Wizards, 107-88.
For Thursday’s contest, Portland will be without Robert Covington (concussion) CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
The Blazers have also listed Rodney Hood (left quad contusion) and Derrick Jones Jr. (left quad contusion) as probable.
For Houston, Christian Wood (right ankle; sprain) is questionable and Dante Exum (right calf; strain) is out.
Following Monday’s game against the Thunder, our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes once again looked at the inconsistency of the Blazers’ defense:
There have been times this season when it appears the Trail Blazers are running an offensive basketball rehabilitation clinic.
There are nights when this seems to be the place for teams struggling at the offensive end to visit for tweaks and tuneups.
And Monday was one of those nights in Moda Center.
The Oklahoma City Thunder brought the NBA's 30th-ranked three-point shooting team to town and the Blazers got them well with a massive overhaul.
The Thunder, who won 125-122, were shooting 32.3 percent from long range heading into the game but knocked down a whopping 18 for 40 (45 percent) against the Trail Blazers.
OKC led most of the game, by as many as 17, and got off to a big start. The Thunder hit 12 of their 21 threes in the first quarter and seemed to have more energy than Portland.
The Trail Blazers made several runs at OKC in the second half, but either couldn’t get the necessary stops or make the required shots to take over the game.
Portland had all kinds of trouble stopping the Thunder’s penetration, which led to layups, dunks or kick-outs to open three-point shooters.
Coach Terry Stotts was not pleased afterward. As you might expect.
“Primarily, they moved the ball really well,” he said. “We didn't contain their penetration, our attention to detail was very poor.
“Our first-half defense was pathetic and there's no excuse for it. But I thought, Oklahoma City played really well. They penetrated the ball, they passed the ball, they shot the ball.”
Damian Lillard hit two threes in the final 5.5 seconds to fuel a last-second comeback, but to that point, Lillard was 1-10 from long range.
The Trail Blazers got a big game from Anfernee Simons, who came off the bench to hit 6 of his 10 three-point shots and score 26, the same total as Lillard.
But it really all came down to a team that has not made threes well, making them in bunches.
Read more here.
The Blazers are +3 point underdogs against the Rockets, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about Thursday’s matchup --
LAST SEASON: The Trail Blazers won the 2019-20 season series with the Rockets, 3-1. Portland has won each of the last four games, and six of the last eight.
Damian Lillard averaged 23.8 points (38.7% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 89.7% FT), 8.0 rebounds, 9.3 assists and 1.30 steals in four games against the Rockets last season.
Carmelo Anthony averaged 13.0 points (40.0% FG, 30.0% 3-PT, 80.0% FT), 12.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.00 steals in three games against Houston last season, with three of his four highest rebounding totals coming against the Rockets.
In two games against the Trail Blazers last season, Eric Gordon averaged 14.0 points (32.1% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 75.0% FT), 1.5 assists and 1.00 steals.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: +3 (-110) – Rockets: -3 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Thursday, January 28
Where: Toyota Center | Houston, TX
Start time: 4:30 p.m. PT
TV channel: TNT
NBCSNW programming: Trail Blazers Warm-Up with Chad Doing and Dwight Jaynes will tip-off at 3:30 p.m. PST on NBCSNW. Blazers Outsiders will air live immediately following the nationally televised game.
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