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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 thump Blazers, 110-92, for 9th straight win

POSTED: March 25, 2024 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets overcame poor shooting and a sluggish second-quarter to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, 110-92, Monday night. With the win, Houston has won nine a row for the first time since Feb. 23 to March 11, 2019, while Portland has lost seven straight.

Houston improves to 36-35, marking its first time over .500 since defeating Detroit in Game #37 on January 12 (19-18 mark).

With Jabari Smith Jr serving a one-game NBA-imposed suspension for fighting, Jock Landale was inserted into the starting lineup at the center position.

Landale responded with 15 of his 17 points in the first quarter on perfect shooting: 5 for 5 fields (2 for 2 threes) and 3 for 3 free throws. Landale also added 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in the opening quarter.

Landale said his mindset did not change with his start

"Nothing different to be honest," Landale remarked in the locker room. "Just play as hard as possible and lock in on defense."

"His energy really got us back in the game," Ime Udoka, Rockets Head Coach said of Landale's performance. "His energy has been great for the last month or so; and, we really needed it tonight with Fred, Dillon, and Jalen struggling a little bit to score."

Fred VanVleet (0 for 1), Dillon Brooks (1 for 5) and Jalen Green (1 for 5) combined to shoot 2 for 11 in the first quarter; however, Houston led Portland 28-25 at the end of the first period.

Houston's offensive woes combined with poor defense in the second quarter. The Rockets missed 20 of 29 shot attempts in the quarter while the Blazers shot 54.5 fg% (12 for 22) and scored 22 of 26 points in the paint.

Houston trailed 51-47 at halftime.

The Rockets turned things around in the third quarter on both ends of the court. Houston outscored Portland 33-20 in the third. Jalen Green scored 12 points (4 for 8 fields; 2 for 2 free throws).

Houston limited Portland to 7 of 21 field goal shooting as well.

Houston led Portland, 80-71, after three quarters. Portland pulled within 6 (82-76) in the fourth quarter; but, Jalen Green swished a three-point basket and made 2 free throws to increase Houston's lead to 87-76 with 9:09 remaining in the quarter.

Portland hung around and climbed within 7 (95-88) on a banked in floater by rookie point guard Scoot Henderson. Fred VanVleet responded with a pullup 3-point basket. Brooks got a dunk on a backdoor cut and assist from Landale. Then, VanVleet swished his second three-pointer before Brooks made all 3 free throws after being fouled attempting a three-pointer.

After combining for 13 points through the first three quarters on 4 for 25 field goal shooting, Brooks and VanVleet combined to score 13 points in 3 minutes in the fourth quarter on 3 for 3 field goals and 5 for 5 free throws.

With Monday's win, the Rockets move within 0.5 games of the Golden State Warriors for the 10th spot for the NBA Play-In.

After the game, Jalen acknowledged he is paying attention the standings in the Western Conference.

"I'm looking at it every day," Green said. "I was watching the Warriors last night. We're making a push. We just gotta stay the course."

Jalen scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half. He has scored 25 or more points in six straight games for the second time in his career (March 26 - April 5, 2022).


Rockets rookie Amen Thompson had 12 points and 9 rebounds. Over the past six games, he is averaging 15.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg in 28.4 mpg. Thompson is averaging 8.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.3 apg and 1.19 spg in 20.7 mpg overall this season. No player in NBA history has averaged at least 8.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 1.00 spg in fewer than 21.0 mpg in a single season.

The Rockets' 18 point win is their sixth straight game winning by double-digits. That is tied for the third-longest streak in franchise history (10 games from 2/21-3/10/08 and 8 games from 11/16-12/7/17).


The Rockets' next game is Wednesday, March 27, on the road, against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

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