Houston Rockets report card: Player grades from Friday’s loss to Portland

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Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. broke out of his recent slump with a team-high 18 points on 50% shooting, but he didn’t have enough help as Houston (1-11) lost its 10th straight game with Friday’s 104-92 loss (box score) to Portland. Perennial All-Star Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers (6-7) with 20 points and 7 assists, including four 3-pointers.

The host Rockets shot just 7-of-32 on 3-pointers (21.9%) and 17-of-27 on free throws (63.0%) at Toyota Center, and that wasn’t good enough versus a veteran-laden opponent led by the likes of Lillard, CJ McCollum (17 points, 8 rebounds), and Jusuf Nurkic (12 points, 9 rebounds).

Christian Wood scored 8 points on just 4-of-15 shooting (26.7%), including 0-of-6 on 3-pointers. Houston had a lively home crowd in a game marking the debut of their new City uniforms and a matching blue court, but the team didn’t shoot well enough to reward them with a win.

See below for highlights and player analysis, with grades limited to players who went at least 15 minutes. Houston wraps up its three-game homestand on Sunday versus Phoenix, with tipoff set for 6 p.m. Central.

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All-A Honor Roll

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  • Kevin Porter Jr. (A-): 18 points, 7-of-14 shooting (50%), 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 fouls, 1 turnover; plus/minus of +9 in 29 minutes

Porter entered Friday’s game shooting 32.3% from the field in his last five game, but he broke out of that slump in a big way while committing only 1 turnover. The Rockets were +9 in the 29 minutes Porter played, and -21 in the 19 minutes that he did not. The only criticisms are related to the 5 fouls, which limited the third-year guard’s playing time a bit, and another off night from the free-throw line (3-of-7, 42.9%).

Good but Not Great (B's)

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  • Jae’Sean Tate (B+): 14 points, 5-of-10 shooting (50%), 6 rebounds, 5 fouls; plus/minus of -1 in 25 minutes

  • Daniel Theis (B): 9 points, 4-of-9 shooting (44.4%), 5 rebounds, 5 fouls; plus/minus of +6 in 29 minutes

  • Alperen Sengun (B): 12 points, 4-of-6 shooting (66.7%), 1-of-1 on 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, plus/minus of -18 in 19 minutes

Tate and Theis each played well, and Theis had some impressive defensive plays late on switches against Lillard. However, both had their playing time limited by foul trouble. After missing a game due to illness, Sengun showcased his post moves on offense and made the majority of his shots — but Houston lost the minutes he played in decisive fashion.

Needs Improvement (C's or worse)

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  • Eric Gordon (C): 11 points, 4-of-12 shooting (33.3%), 1-of-7 on 3-pointers (14.3%), 3 blocks, 2 steals; plus/minus of -9 in 33 minutes

  • Christian Wood (C-): 8 points, 4-of-15 shooting (26.7%), 0-of-6 on 3-pointers, 15 rebounds; plus/minus of -9 in 37 minutes

  • Jalen Green (D): 9 points, 3-of-9 shooting (33.3%), 1-of-2 on 3-pointers (50.0%), 6 rebounds, 6 turnovers; plus/minus of -18 in 31 minutes

  • Danuel House Jr. (C-): 5 points, 1-of-5 shooting (20.0%), 0-of-1 on 3-pointers, 3 rebounds; plus/minus of -7 in 16 minutes

Gordon and House simply didn’t shoot well enough, though Gordon did contribute on defense with 2 steals and a season-high 3 blocks. Wood entered Friday shooting just 42.2% over his last four games, and that percentage sank even more with a poor game on offense versus Portland. (In fairness, he did grab 15 rebounds, which was the highest of any player on either team.) Green didn’t shoot or defend well, was turnover prone, and Silas opted to finish the game with the No. 2 overall pick from the 2021 NBA draft on the bench. It’s hard to argue with that decision.

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