Friday, October 30, 2009

Trail Blazers @ Rockets: Game 3

After putting on one of the worst offensive performances I have seen in the Nate McMillan era, it will be intriguing to see how Portland bounces back as they trek out on the road for the first time this season. If we go off of the season opener, this one should be a cinch; a sure thing. Problem is, there are a lot of intangible factors going on in this game. The big one being this is Houston's home opener and teams just seem to play a lot better in their first game in front of the home crowd. The other being Houston is playing better. They waltzed into the Bay Area and took it right to Golden State (a house of horrors for our own Blazers) and beat them, so naturally their confidence is higher.
Although we are not playing our best offense by any means, we have one thing they do not have, Brandon Roy. It's not the fact he is the best player on the court. It's not that he can be counted on to carry this team on the offensive end when things go flat. It's his leadership abilities to rally the troops. We all know no one took the loss harder than Roy. Look for Brandon to set the tone early by attacking the hoop and forcing Houston to double him at all costs, leaving shooters open. If Travis can bounce back, Marty making timely 3's, and Rudy continues his hot streak, it will be a long night on defense for Houston.
Even if Portland struggles again on offense, this is a game that can be won on the defensive end. We stymied the Houston offense by holding them to 37% shooting, but more importantly won the rebounding battle 51 to 33, which was so critical in last year's playoff series. Obviously the Trail Blazers have the advantage down low, but rebounding is all about will. If the team wants it, they will get it.
Although we have not won in Houston in our last 7 tries, I have a feeling the streak ends tonight. Without Yao and Mcgrady, Houston just lacks the offensive firepower to make Portland pay, even if they are cold from the field again. If the bigs can get Scola in foul trouble again, this could be another route, but that won't happen. Portland eeks out a close game on Halloween night behind a dominating performance on the boards by Joel, Greg, and Travis, yes, Travis.
Game 3 Prediction: Portland 91 Houston 87
Post-Game Thoughts
This will be short and sweet. There are absolutely no excuses to give up 111 points to a Rockets team without Tracy and Yao, but give Houston credit for taking it to us all night long. Try as we might to take the lead, they had an answer for us every time we hit them with a run. Roy tried his best to carry us to a W and you can't ask much more out of him with 42 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, but outside of Aldridge (27 points), no one helped out the cause. There is NO excuse for Greg to attempt 3 shots. It is time for Blake to hit the bench. Andre Miller needs 30+ minutes to get into a rhythm and he won't get that splitting time with Blake. Bench Blake, give Andre 35 mpg and let Bayless get the scraps and find some continuity in the process. I can't put my finger on it, but this team is missing something and my best guess is consistency at the small forward. Hopefully, they find it tomorrow against OKC, unfortunately, I smell a OKC route. Prove me wrong boys!
Box Score

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