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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets lose to Trail Blazers 117-107

Posted: January 16, 2020 -- 7:41 a.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 117-107 Wednesday night. The Rockets have lost 2 straight and 3 of their last 4 games.

"Right now, it's a rough spot," Head Coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game. "We had rough spots last year. We had rough spots the year before. We always have rough spots. We'll just regather and regroup and get back here Saturday and (we'll) have a great game."

James Harden added, "I think everyone goes through a tough time throughout the course of the year. For us, this is now. You know, we’ve got to come together and figure out what the problem is and go out there and try to fight through it."

Harden scored 13 points in the game, marking his lowest total since having 10 vs. Minnesota on January 18, 2018.

The first quarter featured 7 lead changes and 6 ties. Houston trailed 28-26 at the of the quarter. The Rockets never led nor tied the game the next 3 quarters.

Portland (18-24) outscored Houston 32-21 in the second quarter. Russell Westbrook scored 10 of Houston's 21 points in the quarter on 4 for 6 field goal shooting. Ben McLemore went 2 for 4 from three-point range in the second. The rest of the Rockets shot 1 for 16 in the quarter.

Houston (24-16) trailed 60-47 at halftime; however, the Rockets' offense awakened from its first half slumber to score 30 points in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Rockets, the Blazers also scored 30 points in the third to maintain a 13 point lead going to the fourth quarter.

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The Rockets trailed by as much as 14 points twice in the fourth quarter; however, Westbrook sparked a 12-3 run to trim Houston within 5 points (105-100) with 5:03 remaining in the ball game. Westbrook scored 1 of the 12 points; but, he dished out assists for three-point baskets - 1 from P.J. Tucker and 2 from McLemore - during the run.

Portland point guard Damian Lillard responded. Lillard took advantage of poor Rockets' defense; dribbled into the paint; and dished to teammate CJ McCollum for a corner 3. Then, on Portland's next possession, Lillard got into the paint once again; and, this time, dished to a wide open Carmelo Anthony in the opposite corner. Melo nailed a three-point shot - in front of the Rockets' bench - for a 111-100 lead with 4:09 on the clock.

Clint Capela dunked the ball on Houston's next possession; but, the Rockets did not get closer than 9 points the final 3:53 of the game.

Capela finished the game with 14 points and 18 rebounds.

Westbrook had 31 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds with just one turnover while shooting 11-of-22 from the floor.

After the game, the Rockets had a long discussion to clear the air.

Harden said, "Get it off your chest. Everything. Everything. Obviously, there's a lot of different emotions. Everybody's their own person. They feel some type of way about whatever is going on. Individually. As a unit. So, you speak about it. Get it off your chest."

Westbrook mentioned he'll take responsibility for getting the Rockets back on track.

"I'll take the blame, for sure," Westbrook remarked. "I'm going to bring my energy every night; so, my job is to make sure the rest of the guys do it. Starting with myself and hopefully I can lead by example."

Houston's next game is Saturday, January 18, at home, versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m.


Westbrook has scored 30 or more points in each of his past three games played, tying his longest streak of the season. Besides Harden, the last Rocket to have scored 30 or more points in three straight games was Kevin Martin from April 1 to April 5, 2011.

Harden shot 1-of-6 from 3-point range tonight, marking just his second game with fewer than 2 three-point field goals made this season (opening night vs. Milwaukee). That streak of hitting 2 or more threes in 37 consecutive games played from October 26 to January 14 was the longest of his career and the fourth-longest in NBA history.

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