After having two days in between games, the Portland Trail Blazers looked refreshed.
At least to start the game.
Portland jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead on the road over the Houston Rockets Thursday after the Rockets started the game 0-for-6 from the field.
Rebounding and defensive effort were key to the Blazers hot start. Whether it was Derrick Jones Jr. or Enes Kanter, Portland had its way with Houston on the boards early.
After taking a 25-8 lead, the Blazers continued to roll behind Damian Lillard’s 13 first-quarter points.
Houston picked up the pace with John Wall leading the charge to make it a game once again in the second quarter. The Rockets’ defense also helped them take a 53-50 halftime lead.
After the Rockets outscored the Blazers 33-27 in the third, it looked as if Houston was going to snag the win, but it was Gary Trent Jr. to the rescue to help keep Portland within striking distance. But, in the final seconds PJ Tucker came up with a timely bucket and rebound as Houston secured a 104-101 win.
The Rockets' three-point shot started to heat up in the third quarter. Houston also got a big boost from its bench.
Portland’s offense was gelling and at the other end the team was on the same page in the first quarter as the Blazers took a 32-17 lead following the first 12 minutes of action. Damian Lillard found his teammates and the bottom of the net even with Houston doubling him and blitzing him throughout the game.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts stuck with the same starting lineup for the second straight contest with Gary Trent Jr. at the two and Carmelo Anthony starting at power forward in place of Robert Covington who missed his second straight game with a concussion.
After only scoring 18 points as a team in the second quarter, the Blazers got a big boost offensively from Trent Jr. in the third quarter. The Trail Blazers shooting guard caught fire from behind the arc.
When Portland went to its bench, the second unit wasn’t able to hold onto the big lead in the second quarter. Christian Wood, who was initially listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain for Houston, took it at Harry Giles and the Blazers. Wood also dominated on the boards.
The turnovers started to pile up for Portland in the second quarter.
Not only was Wood picking apart the Blazers’ defense, but John Wall looked like his old self again. Wall was on the attack. The 30-year-old point guard finished with 20 points and six assists.
Damian Lillard showed off his range early on national television. Lillard notched 20 points in the first half on 50 percent shooting including 4-for-8 from three.
Houston got out and ran especially in the second quarter. The Rockets scored 15 fast-break points in the second to the Blazers’ two.
Next up: Portland continues its six-game road trip Saturday night in Chicago. The Blazers and Bulls tip-off at 5:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW Saturday.