If you had told me the Rockets would shoot 33% from the field and turn the ball over 23 times in Portland, I would have told you Blazers by 50.
But the struggling Rockets did just that and pushed the supposed juggernaut Blazers into overtime in Portland, only to fall 91-88 in the Rose Garden. The loss drops the Rockets to 3-11 on the year.
The matchup was supposed to be Sir Quitten vs. Sir Charles, but it was an ugly affair and Charles didn't deliver the forearm shivers he hinted at. Scottie Pippen led the Blazers with 19 points, 9 boards and 7 assists while Charles Barkley scored 13, grabbed 11 boards and handed out 6 assists (but hit just 3-11 from the field).
Hakeem Olajuwon went down to injury early in the third quarter and did not return -- the early read was a "pulled right groin".
Cuttino Mobley led all scorers with 25 points.
Steve Francis on the other hand had an awful game, connecting on just 3-17 from the field to total 10 points, 2 boards and 4 turnovers. Definitely his worst game thus far. Also, Shandon Anderson was a complete non-factor, putting up 1 shot and missing it in just 22 minutes of play. The Rockets have got to do a better job of getting him involved. You've got Francis and Mobley jacking up 36 shots combined and Shandon gets up 1? Something's wrong.
Kelvin Cato did an excellent job in place of Hakeem, hitting 4-7 shots for 13 points and 12 rebounds, including the tip jam that tied the game with 11 seconds left in regulation. Matt Bullard added 8 points and Bryce Drew 6.
Overall, I'm proud of the team tonight for doing an excellent job and not rolling over and dying against a team that is supposed to be far superior. But you can only be so proud after looking at 33% shooting and 23 turnovers. The turnovers have been awful for years for the Rockets, but the shooting is the worst they've experienced in a long, long time.
As for the Blazers, I wasn't that impressed. Barkley said it all after the game. "They're not as good as I thought they were. They've got a good team, but you can play with them."