Stotts at Shootaround in Houston
HOUSTON – Consider tonight's game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets a playoff-type matchup being that the Rockets are sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Trail Blazers a game behind.
This will be the third time these two teams have faced off this season and the Trail Blazers (25-24) have taken both games to this point in overtime. In fact, three of the last five games against one another have gone into overtime and the last five games have been decided by 10 or fewer points.
Nicolas Batum scored a career-high 35 points in his last outing against the Rockets. It is very unlikely he could duplicate that performance while he is dealing with a severely sprained right wrist.
“It still feels the same,” Batum said after Wednesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “It's something I'm going to have to deal with until the [All-Star] break.”
Batum hasn't scored over 12 points in his last six games.
LaMarcus Aldridge has a thing for dominating teams in Texas. He's averaging 28.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and two blocks in two games versus the Rockets this season.
“I do love playing in Texas,” Aldridge said. “I'm home. There's a special feeling about performing well in front of friends and family.”
Trail Blazers' rookie Damian Lillard is posting numbers of 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists against the Rockets.
The Rockets (27-24) have won six of their last nine games and are sporting a two-game winning streak as of now. After this home game tonight, the Rockets will embark on a tough three-game road trip (Sac, GS, LAC) before heading into the All-Star break.
If the Trail Blazers can take care of business tonight and finish out the remaining three games of this trip on a strong note, considering Houston's schedule, the Trail Blazers may find themselves in the eighth spot going into the break.
So far, the Trail Blazers are 1-1 on this six-game road trip.
Tonight's game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet at 5 p.m. and on 1190 AM/102.3 FM KEX radio.