Feb 8, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) looks at the scoreboard against the Houston Rockets in the third quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Trail Blazers 118-103. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Game 50 Recap: Blazers 102, Rockets 118

Feb 8, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) takes a shot against the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Trail Blazers 118-103. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If every win is of equal value, which I think it really is, then so too must every loss be created equal. So remember that while looking at the box score from Friday night and doing whatever it is you do to recover from the type of beat down the Houston Rockets put on the Blazers.

Certainly it’s important to note that this most recent loss puts Portland back to .500. It’s also important to mention that losing to the Rockets slides the Blazers to three games down from Houston in the win column and one game down in the loss column for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. But despite those two factors, Portland will be best served by not dwelling on the fact that they gave up 60% shooting from the field and 46% shooting from three and were never really in this game.

You know why the Blazers need to forget about this game as soon as possible? Because through 50 games they are in the hunt for the post-season. They might not get there, but they’re hanging tough. If they get bogged down by one lopsided loss to a hot shooting team built to run poor defending teams out of their gym, we’ll be at game 60, looking back on a 12-game losing streak, dreaming of those days back in January when our team was getting their named tossed into the Playoff conversation.

One loss doesn’t sink the season (whatever you think the season should be), not even if, had the outcome been the opposite in the favor of Portland, we would be deluged with stories about how the Blazers were officially a Playoff team.

They may, or may not be a Playoff team, the rest of the games left on the schedule will decide that. Winning on Friday would have been huge, I’m not going to lie, but it wouldn’t have gotten Portland in the Playoffs, just like losing on Friday, as much as it was tough to watch all things considered, doesn’t necessarily exclude them from the Playoffs. That’s a roundabout way of saying that there’s still a long way to go.

Should we talk about the game a little bit? I mean, the Blazers were kind enough to play all 48 minutes of it, the least we can do is break it down some.

I said Portland should let James Harden go off Friday, and if they did, they’d be doing themselves a favor. Well, Harden shot 13-of-16 from the field and 4-of-5 from three for 35 points. He basically did whatever he wanted. So, even if it wasn’t the game-plan, the Blazers did basically what I said they should do. And they got absolutely pasted for their efforts. Here’s why. I also said they needed to not get beaten by the rest of the Rockets not named James Harden.

Houston’s stat line broke down thus: Jeremy Lin 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from three for 16 points, Chandler Parsons 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-8 from three for 20 points, and Patrick Patterson 8-of-11 from the field for 16 points. Not world-beater numbers, to be sure, but also not the type of numbers you’d like to see coming at you if you’re the Blazers.

Beyond that, it’s hard to really point to where things went wrong for Portland on Friday. The best that I can come up with is that the Blazers and the Rockets are essentially built to succeed in the same way. Both teams like to get out and run with play-makers running the point and shooters spacing the floor. The difference Friday was that Houston was sharp where Portland was the opposite of sharp.

Neither the Rockets nor the Blazers have perfected this method of play, and it’s hard to say which team will get there first. I’m up and down on Jeremy Lin, I believe he could do himself a major favor by trying to figure out how to play within himself. James Harden is the real deal. Chandler Parsons might be close to his ceiling, but he’s already proven to be of serious value, same with Patrick Patterson. Omer Asik is a bit of an X-Factor.

As for Portland, Damian Lillard is basically perfect for the system being run by Terry Stotts, same for LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. J.J. Hickson is a one-term Blazer. Wesley Matthews is the Blazers’ X-Factor. Given those two rosters and what’s available in the way of cap space and potential free agent signings, I’d say Portland has more room for growth while Houston is where the Blazers will probably want to be by next season at the latest. When playing a team that is traveling on the same path but a little further along in their development, it makes sense to get blown out one time out of three.

Like I said, forget about it and move on.

The Blazers continue their road trip in Orlando on Sunday. The Magic are one of the teams Portland should beat on this swing. Again, it’s not time to pack it up should they lose, I’m just saying that if they want to give themselves a chance at all at the post season, they can’t lose to the Magic.

Couple of quick things:

  • I’m formulating something in my head to write about Meyers Leonard. I’ll tease it by saying his performance Friday night (0-of-3 from the field, 1-of-2 from the free throw line, three rebounds, one assist, and one point) was nothing abnormal for him, and that as far as the long-term rebuilding plans go for the Blazers, it’s not a good sign. I’ll leave it at that for now.
  • Nicolas Batum shot 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-8 from three for 24 points. Hopefully his slump is over. Sadly, while Nic was good, or at least better on Friday, Wesley Matthews was bad. Wes shot 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-6 from three. He finished with 2 points. Two points from Matthews is not enough if Portland wants to win.
  • Victor Claver played 22 and a half minutes and scored five points, some in meaningful minutes. Progress is progress.
  • James Harden is good. The James Harden is good because he’s no longer in OKC narrative is staid and tired. The James Harden is a lot better than everybody thought he was going to be narrative is even more tired and even more staid. Dude was the third pick overall. He’s always been good.


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Tags: Blazers James Harden Jeremy Lin Rockets

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