It took overtime, but the Blazers finally found themselves Saturday night vs the Rockets. Yes, Houston was shorthanded and more G league than NBA team, but the Blazers got the work out and they needed, not to mention their first win of the season,128-126.
It took 44 points and a career high 9 three pointers from CJ McCollum. CJ lit it up in the third quarter to bring Portland back from a 10 point halftime deficit and never cooled, hitting the Blazers game winning 3 with 6.3 seconds on the clock in OT.
James Harden who has been linked to Portland in trade talks, was unstoppable. He finished with 44 points and 17 assists in 43 minutes of play vs Portland. CJ guardee him, former teammate Robert Covington guarded him, Derrick Jones Jr guarded him (and seemed yo have the best luck), but Harden hit threes and got the basket regardless. Harden helped his team stave off a loss in regulation with a long three wuth seconds left, but fumbled a pass to PJ Tucker with seconds left in OT, gifting the ball to Covington who then ran the clockout.
Damian Lillard who went scoreless in the first half of Wednesday’s season opener vs the Jazz and finished with only 9 points, was more aggressive agai st the Rockets. Lillard put up 21 of his 32 points in the first half vs Houston. He made an important layup and three late to help the Blazers to a win.
As Lillard is still trying to figure out a playoff schemed defense against him, that sees him doubled the entire game, he has tried to get his team involved in the offense.
There was noticably less isolation play and more teamwork, but the Blazers still need to work more on moving the ball and getting Covington and Jones Jr more touches. We saw last night at moments how good Portland can be when they utilize everyone.
The Blazers struggled defensively in the first half allowing 68 points, but tightened things up in the 2nd half holding them to 45 points, including 0-9 shooting from deep in the third, and 2-14 in the second half total.