Jusuf Nurkic, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 63 points and the visiting Portland Trail Blazers dismantled the suddenly hapless Houston Rockets 104-85 on Tuesday.
Portland, completing a four-game, six-day road trip, overcame a sluggish start and pulled away from the rested Rockets with a 15-3 run in the second quarter. Houston had pulled even at 28-all on back-to-back baskets, with Eric Gordon following a Carmelo Anthony baseline dunk with a 3-pointer at the 5:24 mark. When Nurkic converted a layup with 2:11 left, Portland led 43-31. The Blazers extended that advantage to 15 points by intermission with a 6-0 half-closing surge.
The Rockets, playing a second consecutive game without All-NBA guard James Harden (Grade 1-plus left hamstring strain), offered token resistance in the second half, trailing by as many as 28 points while remaining winless at home. The Rockets have dropped games to the New Orleans Pelicans, Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers, and now Portland by an average of 13.3 points.
Nurkic scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter on 5-of-6 shooting and chipped in 10 rebounds for the game. Lillard added 22 points (on 8-for-10 shooting) and seven assists while McCollum hit 3 of 6 3-pointers en route to 19 points. The Trail Blazers finished 3-1 on their road trip and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Rockets. Houston swept the series last season.
Despite shooting just 38.1 percent in the first quarter on the second night of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers finished 38 for 80 from the field (47.5 percent) while making 20 of 23 free throws.
The Rockets, embarrassed defensively by the Clippers on Friday, showed early signs of improvement on that end of the court. But Portland hit 10 of 17 shots in its 32-point second quarter, then followed that by shooting 61.9 percent (13 of 21) while scoring 34 in the third.
Houston, meanwhile, struggled to generate offense. Chris Paul (team-high 17 points) combined with Gordon (12 points) and Anthony (eight points) to shoot 12 for 49 (24.5 percent) from the floor as Houston missed 33 of 43 treys.
—Field Level Media