Rockets 116, Trail Blazers 101

Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Rockets guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard were simply too much for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at the Moda Center, combining for 62 points to lead Houston to a 116-101 victory over Portland.
Harden collected 33 points and seven rebounds, and Howard had 29 points and 13 boards as the Rockets rebounded from a 137-118 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center.
Guard Damian Lillard scored 22 points, forward LaMarcus Aldridge added 21, and guard Wesley Matthews had 19 for Portland (2-2).
Houston (4-1) shot 54.7 percent from the field, ruled the backboards 47-30 and won the points-in-the-paint battle 54-28.
Leading by five points at the half, Houston scored the first 10 of the third quarter to jump in front 65-50, then increased the run to 15-2 for a 70-52 advantage midway through the quarter.
The Blazers rallied, closing the gap to 80-71 with a 19-10 spurt. The Rockets held an 84-73 edge going into the final period.
Portland continued the fight back, cutting the margin to 93-88 with eight minutes to play. Houston pushed the lead back up to 101-90, and Portland got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Howard and Harden each scored 18 points to stake Houston to a 55-50 halftime lead. Howard, who was 6-for-7 from the field and 6-for-8 from the foul line, also had eight rebounds in a dominating first-half performance. He finished 10-for-13 from the floor, 9-for-12 from the line.
Matthews and Lillard each scored 12 points and Aldridge had 11 in the half for the Blazers.
Portland jumped to a 19-10 lead before Houston clicked into gear, going on a 19-4 run to jump in front 29-23. Forward Dorell Wright got the Blazers back on track, knocking down consecutive 3-pointers to give the Portland a 31-30 advantage going into the second quarter.
Portland built a 36-30 lead, but the Rockets, with Harden and Howard doing much of the damage, stormed back with a 13-0 spurt for a 43-36 advantage midway through the second quarter.
NOTES: Houston G Patrick Beverley, who missed the previous three games with a torn muscle in his midsection, returned to action. He scored 12 points in 29 minutes. "He's a pretty efficient defensive presence," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "Point-of-attack defense is huge. Most teams' offense start with their point guard. Last night it was (Chris) Paul; tonight it's (Damian) Lillard. Those are really elite guys. You want to make it harder on them." ... Portland was without reserve C/F Joel Freeland, who aggravated a hip injury in Saturday's win over the San Antonio Spurs. That moved second-year C Meyers Leonard into a spot in the rotation. Leonard scored six points in 14 minutes. ... The Blazers beat Houston 119-117 in a wild overtime game here last November in which Blazers F Nicolas Batum scored a career-high 35 points.

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