Rockets go off on Blazers
HOUSTON The Trail Blazers ran into a hot Houston Rockets team Friday night, and did nothing to cool them down.
The Rockets never trailed and led by as many as 20 points in a James Harden-led 118-103 victory over Portland at Toyota Center.
Houston (28-24), sitting eighth in the NBA Western Conference, shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the field and collected its six win in the last eight games and fourth straight victory at home.
Portland (25-25), ninth in the West and one spot out of the playoffs if they began today, fell two games behind Houston. The Blazers still lead the season series with the Rockets 2-1, with the fourth and final meeting April 5 at the Rose Garden.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard combined for 73 points Friday, but the Blazers who are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers trailed 34-20 after one quarter and couldn't recover.
Aldridge had team highs of 31 points and 11 rebounds for his career-high seventh consecutive double-double.
Batum, who donned a new brace on his sore right wrist, broke out of a scoring slump with 24 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.
Lillard chipped in 18 points and a team-leading six assists.
But Portland, which missed 17 of its final 19 attempts from 3-point range in Monday's loss at Dallas, made just 8 of 26 from beyond the arc at Houston, leaving them at 10 for its last 45 trey tries.
The Blazers finished 0-2 in Texas and dropped to 1-2 on their six-game trip, heading to Florida, where they will meet Orlando on Sunday and Miami on Tuesday. The trip ends with a Wednesday game at New Orleans.
Portland has lost six of its last seven on the road.
Harden was the main individual reason for the latest defeat. He poured in 35 points, 20 in the first half on 8-for-8 field-goal shooting, and also had a game high in assists with 11. He would up 13 of 16 from the field, and added seven rebounds.
"That's an efficient a night as you'll see," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.