Rockets vs. Trail Blazers NBA Pick
Rockets star guard James Harden has missed the last two games but he is expected to play when his team visits the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Houston Rockets (29-17) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (20-27)
Wednesday, January 29 at 10:00 PM ET (ESPN), ModaCenter
Rockets Prevail in Utah
Harden was dealing with a thigh injury that kept him out of the last two contests and the Rockets went just 1-1 without him. First, they lost 117-110 against the Nuggets in Denver on Sunday before bouncing back with a convincing 126-117 road win against the Jazz on Monday
Russell Westbrook also didn’t play against the Jazz but Eric Gordon stepped up for them and scored a career-high 50 points.
In addition to missing Harden and Westbrook, the Rockets were also without Clint Capela. Gordon was 14-for-22 from the field and 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the victory. Danuel House and Austin Rivers were also huge difference-makers, scoring 21 points each. ESPN’s FPI gave the Jazz a 67.1 percent chance of winning the game.
With his epic performance, Eric Gordon became the first Rockets player besides James Harden to score 50 points in a game since Hakeem Olajuwon. The legendary center had 51 points in a 108-106 loss against the Celtics on January 18, 1996.
“I feel like I’m getting back to being myself,” Gordon told reporters after the game. “I told everybody when you have surgery during the season, it’s always going to be a process.”
Gordon was referencing the 22 games he missed after undergoing surgery on his right knee on November 13. He is averaging 22.1 points in 31.8 minutes over his last nine games and the Rockets need him at his best tonight considering that James Harden has been struggling with his shot and is hard to tell if he will be 100 percent.
Harden finished with 29 points in a 112-107 home loss against the Thunder on January 20 but he was just 9-for-29 from the field and 1-for-17 from 3-point range. The 16 misses from distance are tied for the most missed 3-point shots in a game in league history.
After the game Harden went back on the court and worked on his shot. It was the 10th game of his career with more than 15 3-point attempts on 20 percent or worse accuracy (including the playoffs). He went 9-for-51 from 3-point range during the Rockets’ recent four-game losing streak.
James Harden actually had his worst game of the season last Friday against the Timberwolves, scoring just 12 points on 3-for-13 from the field and he missed the six 3-pointers he attempted.
He is averaging 25.6 points while shooting just 34.8 percent from the field and 22.9 percent from 3-point range in 34.3 minutes over his last eight games.
Can Harden finally end his shooting woes? The Rockets are playing better defense, Harden is not playing well and this is a must-win game for both teams. Defense will be the focus for both teams tonight and this is a very high total. The Rockets and Trail Blazers have talented backcourts and incredible scorers but they need this victory and their defenses have to show up.
The Rockets want to string some wins together and prove that they belong in the conversation for Western Conference contenders while the Trail Blazers can’t afford to keep losing often, they need to start winning games, especially at home or they will miss the playoffs.