Rockets 116, Trail Blazers 98

Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PORTLAND -- James Harden was the driving force behind Houston's 116-98 rout of Portland Friday night at the Rose Garden.
The All-Star guard totaled 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Rockets (43-33) won their fourth straight game and remained in seventh place in the Western Conference playoff race, a game behind Golden State.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers (33-43), who lost for the seventh consecutive time.
Jeremy Lin collected 22 points and eight assists and Greg Smith added 19 points for Houston, which shot .513 from the field and .429 from 3-point range.
Portland trimmed a seven-point halftime deficit to 68-63 early in the third quarter, but the Rockets revved up the motors again, taking a 92-77 advantage into the final period.
Harden's 19 points helped stake Houston to a 63-56 lead after the first half, the Rockets shooting well from the field (.526) and 3-point range (.529).
Aldridge kept Portland within striking distance with a monster first half, collecting 22 points and nine rebounds before intermission.
Harden bombed in 17 points and Houston sank 6 of 8 from 3-point range en route to a 35-31 lead after one quarter. Aldridge scored 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the period for the Blazers.
The Rockets scored the first nine points of the second quarter to jump in front 44-31, and it was 53-40 midway through the quarter.
Houston outscored Portland 28-14 in fastbreak points and led by as many as 22 points.
NOTES: LaMarcus missed the four previous games with a sprained ankle, and the Blazers lost all four and were on a six-game skid. "It's been a rough stretch without him," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Everybody knows how important he is to our team. When you lose somebody we rely so much on, it's good to have him back." ... Small forward Nicolas Batum (shoulder) missed his second straight game for the Blazers. Rookie Victor Claver will start in his place. ... Houston is shorthanded at small forward, with starter Chandler Parsons (calf) and backup Carlos Delfino (flu) out. Veteran Francisco Garcia started ... Houston forward Terrence Jones made his NBA debut in his hometown. The 6-9 rookie from Portland's Jefferson High had 14 points and 12 rebounds -- eight off the offensive glass -- in Houston's 112-102 win at Sacramento Wednesday night. It was Jones' first NBA game since Dec. 19. He had been averaging 19.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in 24 games with Rio Grande Valley of the D-League. ... Earlier in the day, Portland point guard Damian Lillard was honored as the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the fifth straight month -- the first time a rookie has swept a conference award through the first five months of a season since the Clippers' Blake Griffin in 2010-11. "I'm happy for him," Stotts said. "He's very deserving. He had his best month of the season in March. It's quite an accomplishment for him."

What to Read Next