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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 in OT, 137-131

POSTED: January 24, 2024 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets scored 131 points Wednesday night. And lost. The Portland Trail Blazers scored a season-high 137 points to defeat the Rockets 137-131 in overtime.

With the win tonight, the Blazers have won 11 of the past 14 games against the Rockets after losing nine of the previous 12. Houston has lost two in a row at home after winning four of its previous five at Toyota Center.

Portland forward Jerami Grant sent the game into OT with a banked in three-point shot that beat the buzzer at the end of the 4th quarter.

Houston led 124-121 with 1.6 seconds left in the both. After Portland called timeout to set up a play, Rockets' Head Coach put big man Boban Marjanovic into the game to guard in the inbound passer (Portland's Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon tossed a cross-court pass over Boban to Grant; Grant caught pass; and, launched a shot that hit the square on the backboard and fell through the net to force overtime.

"We had a play drawn up," Grant said describing the play. "They (the Rockets) ended up going zone -- trying to stop us from getting to the corner. So, I had to just go to the open spot; I saw an open spot. I held off somebody (Rockets' guard Fred VanVleet) and just let the shot go."

"Trying to zone up there, they ran a clear out on the side," VanVleet said after the game. "But, in that scenario, you probably want to give up anything but that. By the time he (Grant) caught it, I had a chance to foul him; but, he was already gathered. He made a tough shot."

Houston (20-23) led Portland 69-57 at halftime; however, the Blazers made 13 of 22 shots (59.1 fg%) in the third quarter including 8 of 13 three-pointers (61.5 3pt%) to score 41 points in the third period.

"I think in games we're scoring easy - we scored 30 plus in every quarter -- we sometimes get too comfortable. To give up 41 points in that third quarter, it's an embarrassment," Ime Udoka, Rockets Head Coach said after the game.

Portland guard Anfernee Simons scored 16 of his 33 points in the third quarter.

Portland's trapping defense early in the 4th quarter caused problems for Houston. The Rockets committed 3 turnovers in the first 4:21 of the fourth which resulted in a 106-103 Blazers' lead.

VanVleet said the Rockets struggled against the trapping defense because "We haven't seem too much of it. It looked like that was our first time seeing it. We just didn't execute well out of it."

Houston stopped turning over the ball and led 114-110 after the Blazers committed 4 turnovers in a 2-minute span.

After a Portland timeout, Jalen Green missed a driving dunk; Portland center Deandre Ayton missed an alley-oop dunk; Ayton rebounded his own miss but missed the putback layup attempt. But, Simons rebounded Ayton's missed layup and scored a floater to cut Houston's lead to 114-112.

VanVleet missed a 3-point attempt; Ayton rebounded the miss; then, Simons missed a 3 and the ball bounced over Alperen Sengun into Ayton's hands. Ayton scored a jump hook to the game at 114.

Houston led 122-118 with 38.9 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

After Simons missed a fade away jumper, Rockets' forward Jeff Green's corner 3-point attempt rimmed out with 15.2 seconds on the clock. Malcolm Brogdon hit a corner 3 with 3.1 seconds remaining to cut Houston's lead to 122-121.

Portland took a take foul with 2.2 on the clock. Houston called timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt. Aaron Holiday caught the inbounds pass and was fouled with 1.6 on the clock. Holiday made both free throws which set up Jerami Grant's heroics to send the game into the extra session.

Brogdon sank a 3 to start to the OT; and, Portland outscored Houston 9-2 in the first 2:46 of the overtime. Houston didn't get closer than 4 the rest of OT.

Houston falls to 1-4 in overtime this season while Portland improves to 3-2. The Rockets did not play more than three overtime games in any of the past four seasons.

Alperen Sengun had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in the game. Jalen Green scored 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting after averaging 12.7 ppg on 35.6% shooting the three games prior. He has scored 20+ points in seven of the past 15 games after scoring below 20 in each of the nine games prior.

Portland outrebounded Houston 48-37. The Rockets have been outrebounded by double-digits in two of the past four games and six times overall this season (0-6 mark).

"Our defense wasn't on point like it should have been in the third," Coach Udoka said. Allowed them to get back in the game; take a lead; and, then we (were) missing some open shots that could obviously extended the lead. Doesn't always come down tho the last shot."


VanVleet finished the game with 18 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Dating back to 1985-86, he is the fifth Rocket to have posted those numbers in a single game (Hakeem Olajuwon six times, James Harden twice, Tracy McGrady once, Steve Francis once). VanVleet, who is listed at 6'0", has now recorded multiple blocks in six of his past eight games played.

The Rockets shot 11-of-26 from 3-point range through three quarters but 1-of-10 in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. Houston had 12 threes made on 33.3% shooting overall while Portland hit 15 on 42.9% shooting. The Rockets are 17-5 when having more three-point field goals made than their opponent this season and 3-18 when having as many or fewer.


The Rockets' next game is Friday, January 29, on the road, against the Charlotte Hornets. Tip is set for 6 p.m. Central Time.

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