Dame Time: Three takeaways from Sunday’s 131-114 loss to the Blazers.

Feb 26, 2023; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots the ball over Houston Rockets power forward Jabari Smith Jr. (1) and guard TyTy Washington Jr. (0) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Dame Time: Three takeaways from Sunday’s 131-114 loss to the Blazers.

Damian Lillard torched the Rockets for 71 points as their losing streak reached nine games with a 131-114 loss to the Blazers on Sunday night. Lillard scored 41 points in the first half, the second-highest-scoring half of the season, and 21 points in the fourth quarter, just for good measure. Jae’Sean Tate and Alperen Sengun led the Rockets with 17 points.

Damian Lillard’s brilliance

Forty-eight hours after Klay Thompson torched the Rockets for 11 3-pointers, Lillard one-upped him. The Blazers guard finished with a career-high 71 points, the eighth highest scoring game in NBA history, on 22-of-38 shooting, 13-of-22 from behind the 3-point line while making all 14 of his free throws. The Rockets tried to defend Lillard straight up in the first half and failed spectacularly, allowing him to score 41 points. They got a little more aggressive with him and tried to get the ball out of his hands on pick-and-rolls in the second half, but it really didn’t matter. Lillard still scored nine points in the third quarter while dishing out three assists and then took over in the fourth after the Rockets had trimmed a 23-point deficit to five.

Effort matters

The Rockets were down 21 when Drew Eubanks committed a flagrant foul against Alperen Sengun, and it woke up a listless Rockets team. A few minutes earlier, Eubanks stared down and stepped over Sengun after blocking his shot, drawing a reaction from K.J. Martin, so the flagrant was the last straw. From that point on, the Rockets started to play with some pride and finished the third quarter on a 17-10, which carried over into the fourth, where they were able to cut Portland’s lead down to five. They never got closer than that, but it shows what the Rockets can do when they simply play hard.

The incident with Eubanks was reminiscent of the win over the Hawks back in November when Dejounte Murray tapped Jabari Smith Jr. on the head after hitting a three over him. The Rockets were down double digits that night, but took exception to the disrespect, stormed back, and won the game. The Rockets can be good when they play the right way, but it shouldn’t take the actions of an opponent to make that happen.

A better night for Alperen Sengun

Sengun was much more impactful on the offensive end of the floor on Sunday after averaging just nine points on 35% shooting over his previous four games. Against the Blazers, Sengun scored 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go with eight offensive rebounds. All but one of his shots came from the paint, so he still wasn’t as efficient as you want and he only took two free throws, but it was a solid step because the Rockets need him, especially with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green still out.

Next up

The Rockets will return home to play their first home game in 20 days when the Denver Nuggets visit Toyota Center on Tuesday night.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *