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Trail Blazers end homestand with consecutive losses

  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    Prior to Monday's overtime loss to Oklahoma City the Rose Garden had been a fortress for the Portland Trail Blazers, who were 11-1 at home.

    After losing 103-96 to the Houston Rockets Wednesday, in front of 20,350 at the Rose Garden, the infallibility of the Portland Trail Blazers on their home court is in question and coach Nate McMillan and his players are left searching for the answers after their second consecutive home loss.

    "It's tough, it's tough, that's for sure, but it's a process you have to go through unfortunately," Portland guard Jamal Crawford said. "We can be two different teams at times. I think that to be so good, then to come up short and really shortchange ourselves, I think that's the most surprising thing."

    Houston (15-11) led much of the night, claiming a 60-46 halftime lead and extending it to 19 points, 69-50, on Kevin Martin's fadeaway 20-footer early in the third quarter.

    "We never defended them right from the start. That team was scoring pretty easily," McMillan said. "We've got to work harder defensively. At the start of the game you establish yourself, both offensively and defensively, and we never did that...We're getting a team out there where at times we can't score and then at times we need defense. You can't play that way."

    Portland (14-12) finished the third quarter on a 20-7 run to close the gap to 77-70 headed into the final stanza. The comeback was spearheaded by the energetic play of Gerald Wallace, who had seven points and four rebounds in the quarter on his way to 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and a game-high nine rebounds.

    The Trail Blazers kept that momentum rolling into the fourth quarter, tying the game at 77-77 on a Jamal Crawford driving finger roll and pull-up three-pointer, then an emphatic dunk by LaMarcus Aldridge to draw level two minutes into the final period.

    Crawford led Portland with 21 points and six assists, followed by Wallace's 20 points. Wesley Matthews chipped in 17 points and LaMarcus tallied 13 points and five boards.

    Matthews dunk off the dish from Crawford tied the game once more at 82-82 with 8:44 remaining but Houston would earn separation again from that point, as baskets from reserves Chase Budinger, Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee sparked an 8-0 run that put the visitors ahead for good as they hung on for the final seven-point margin.   

    The Houston bench was a determining factor in the game, led by Budinger with a game-high 22 points and Lee with 16 points as the Rockets reserves outscored the Trail Blazers subs 66-37.

    Next, Portland travels to New Orleans to take on the Hornets Friday, 5 p.m., and turns around to complete the road back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

    Both games can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet (Comcast channel 37). 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play calls.

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