Howard's great night not enough

Howard's great night not enough
December 13, 2013, 1:30 am
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Dwight throws down the lob from Harden

(Steve Dykes - USA Today Sports Images)

For the first night of the Rockets three game road trip, the team did a lot of things that normally lead to a win. They got a big night from Dwight Howard, got a career-high 11 rebounds from Pat Beverley and committed a season-low eight turnovers. But it was not quite enough to top the Portland Trail Blazers, who beat the Rockets, 111-104.

Houston had already won once in Portland earlier this season, and had the lead at haltime in a surprisingly low-scoring game at 44-43. But their defense, which held the Blazers to 32.6 percent shooting in the first half, was far less successful in the second half. Portland scored 68 points in the second half and shot 55.8 percent.

A lot of that spectacular offense in the second half came from LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds - just in the second half. He had 31 points and 25 rebounds for the game. He became the first player in Blazers history to have 30 or more points and 25 or more rebounds in a game. Blazers history.

Parsons put in very well, if not succinct, when describing Aldridge.

"LaMarcus Aldridge is a problem. He's very, very good," Parsons said.

"He's a load," said Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson. "I don't remember seeing someone that takes so many hard, contested, fall-away jump shots and consistently makes them. He's really, really good."

Sampson is coaching the team, while head coach Kevin McHale is with his family after his mother passed away on Tuesday night. The funeral will be Friday and there is definite timetable for McHale's return to the team.

The performance from Aldridge helped to offset the monster night from Dwight Howard who had 32 points and 17 rebounds. He's been great against Portland in the two matchups this year, giving the Rockets 29 points and 13 rebounds in the team's victory in Portland, 116-101, back on November 5.

"You have to pick your poison with this team," Sampson said. "Giving up tough, contested twos or they are a good hockey-assist team, they kick that thing and spin it."

That basically means they move the ball well and make the extra pass. Which they did plenty of tonight. Even with that, Houston held Portland to 8-of-27 shooting behind the three-point line. They came into the game at 41.5 percent, good for second in the NBA.

"Another thing that hurt us was When they shot and missed they came in and scooped up a lot of long rebounds," Sampson said. "Our guards were leaking out a little bit. We're a running team and when our guards leak out there are long rebounds. We kept telling them in the huddle, let's get the rebound before we run."

Portland had the rebounding edge 52 to 48. It's only the sixth time the Rockets have not won the rebounding battle and they are now 1-5 in those games.