Seth Payne’s Rockets Notes: Houston At Portland

[Editor’s Note: Seth Payne (Mad Radio 10a-2p Mon-Fri) takes notes while he watches every Rockets games. These are his thoughts, his ideas and his brain written on paper, typed on a phone and e-mailed to us to share with you. Enjoy.]

Pre-Game

CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are both living with their mom. Okay, that’s cool and all, but are we talking a guest house situation, or are they bunked up in a two bedroom townhome? I’m guessing it’s the former.

Jalen Rose notes that what the Rockets are really missing is a power forward, what with Motiejunas in the D-league and Terrence Jones with his bi-weekly, unconventional injury. Right now it’s a car accident. For the next one, my money is on a spider bite or, at least, a critter of some sort.

We head to Moda Center. Ryan Ruocco and Doug Collins have the call. I have no idea what Moda is. Do they make cell phones? Honest question.

Collins points out the impressive season Harden is having, despite the widespread notion that he hates kittens and sympathizes with North Korea.

First Quarter

• Dwight getting involved early. Good, good. He scores the first 6 points. Doing a good job of getting it to him early in the possession while he’s on the move, instead of planted in the low post like a broad-shouldered ficus tree.
• Dwight posts up and hits a nice hook versus Mason Plumlee, who I refuse to take seriously no matter what Doug Collins tells me.
• Harden and Dwight both very active, James hits a couple free throws and Houston leads 13-9 at 7:52.
• Plumlee fouls Dwight. Dwight makes a free throw. Plumlee looks like a freakishly big 8-year-old in a picture from 1925. I like to picture him wearing knickers while holding a lollipop, like a privileged Roosevelt child.
• Harden and Howard haven’t missed yet. Houston 20-13 at 5:08
• Collins notes that Harden is averaging over 31 points in the 2nd game of a back to back.
• Plumlee has hit two in a row. One at the rim, one a mid-range jumper. I better lay off Plumlee for a moment.
• Lillard drives to tie it at 20. JBB takes a timeout.
• The All-Star celebrity game teams will be coached by Kevin Hart and Drake.
• Harden draws a foul as he’s changing the ball from his right to left hand. Some argue that that’s not a shooting motion. I grudgingly concur.
• Plumlee with a long 2 to tie it at 26. Nope, that’s Miles Leonard who made the shot. Seth, you’re a big dumb idiot.
• Rockets have come out with good energy. I hate that that’s a talking point with this team, but at least, it’s a possible talking point tonight.
• Harden turns the ball over, Lillard scores on the fast break. Portland up 29-26.
• Corey Brewer hits a 3 at the buzzer to tie it at 29-29!

Second Quarter

• JBB talks about how they’re trying to get the ball to Dwight earlier in the possession.
• Doug Collins says he has two artificial hips. This comes as a surprise to me because I thought every single former athlete with an artificial hip was hawking them on Radio Row at the Super Bowl
• Dwight with another jump hook over Plumlee. Eat it, Plumlee!
• Great ball movement by Portland, Plumlee hits a jumper. I’ll sit down, now.
• Announcer talking about Lillard and McCollum’s mothers living with them. Is this gonna be a trend? Douglas Macarthur’s mother was unnaturally attached to her son, but it never took off. Maybe Lillard can succeed where MacArthur failed. Of course, I’m speaking of living arrangements, not the Korean peninsula.
• McCollum drives in the paint to tie it at 42. Not really happy with the way the Rockets have been giving up the paint the last few possessions.
• So far, Dwight is 8 for 8.
• Howard and Harden have combined for 32. Portland up 44-42.
• Beverly gives a nice love tap of a foul to Lillard, and Lillard gets pissy because, as we know, Beverly is deep, deep, deep in Lillard’s head. Lillard might try to act tough in his commercials, but he lives with his mommy. He can’t make it through a day without a hug from his mama or an NBA official. The officials know there’s a history between these two, so they decide to review this for a flagrant based on things that have happened in completely different basketball games. COMMON FOUL! Justice is served.
• Ha! Lillard shoves Beverly! Foul! And your commercials suck!
• Harden with a half-hearted offensive foul on Lillard. All right, fellahs, let’s not make this any sloppier than it needs to be. Hard fouls, with conviction, or go home. I want a clean game or an absolute blood bath–nothing in between.
• Capela at the line on an actual foul, not a hacking foul. Same result, anyway–two clankers.
• Blazers his a 3, it’s Portland 50-42 with about 3 minutes remaining.
• Rockets have given the Blazers 20 points off of turnovers. Blazers lead 55-43 with 1 minute remaining. Ruocco points out James Harden’s body language in the second quarter. Look, I’m not excusing the turnovers, but Harden’s body language is always the same, whether he’s winning or losing, dancing at a wedding or crying at a funeral. He’s got a lazy smooth way of moving, and you can’t tell what the hell his body language is saying about his emotions. So let’s shut the hell up about body language.
• Lillard slices through the Rockets D for 2 at the end of the half. 17-4 run to end the half. 57-46 Blazers. Stong first quarter by the Rockets, miserable 2nd quarter. 13 turnovers in the first half. Howard with 18 points, 9 rebounds.

Third Quarter

• Ariza for 3. Gotta get these 3’s working.
• Howard with a goal tending. Howard is still athletic enough that his goal tends look impressive. I’d like to see a highlight reel of goal tends. I don’t care that they don’t count–it’s a freaking human being grabbing a rubber ball 12 feet in the air. Crazy.
• Collins talking about scripting time in the All-Star Game to be sure guys get their time, but that you have enough in reserve to go hard the last 8 minutes of the game. Sounds like little league, but with way more groupies hanging about.
• Oh, by the way, Portland is up 70-53 at the 8:10 mark. Turnovers, uncontested 3’s. Wash, rinse, repeat.
• Dwight loses a contact lens. He’s having a hard time putting it in. The crowd is getting to him. They’re booing. HE DECIDES TO LEAVE THE CONTACT LENS OUT! Oh man, he’s about to shoot a free throw missing a contact lens.
• Dwight misses free throw, and the thought of getting back on defense never enters the minds of these Houston Rockets. Lillard guns a long pass to McCollum and he lays it in.
• Blazers 75-60 at 6:31
• Plumlee hits Beverly with a moving screen. No call. Plumlee, I’d like to see you run into Beverly in a dark alley, you Life cereal eatin’ punk.
• Harkless at the line. Now I’ve got that damn Heartless song by Heart in my head.
• Harden turns ball over, Harkless scores on the fast break. Damn you, Ann and Nancy Wilson.
• Harden turns the ball over again.
• Howard for 2. He’s got 26 so far, but the Rox are down 86-67 with 3 minutes remaining.
• Can’t blame Harden and Howard’s offense. I could do without Harden’s turnovers and the absence of every other roster member.
• What’s this, a 9-1 Houston run? Rockets within 13.
• Harden’s made some nice plays here. A drive, a fadeaway. Can’t get any momentum going though, ‘cause they’re not getting stops on the other end, or they’re fouling. This has not been a fun game to watch thus far.
• Collins points out that Rox are outshooting Portland, but Portland’s got 16 more shots at the basket due to rebounding and turnovers.
• Montrez Harrell with a steal on the inbound pass! Get after it, young fellah! (RIP 2016 Louisville squad)
• 92-81 Portland at end of quarter

Fourth Quarter

• Terry hits a 3 and it’s an 8 point game. Good job, old timer.
• Harden with a turnover. I don’t know how many that is, but it’s definitely more than his league leading 4.4 turnovers per game.
• For the life of me, I’m watching this game on my phone and I cannot tell the difference between Plumlee and Myers Leonard. I’m just going to call both of them “Plummard”.
• Blazers 93-85 at 9:34
• Terry hits a 3! 5 point game, and Stotts takes a timeout.
• Jason Terry 3rd all time in 3’s.
• Rockets turn it over on the inbound when Dwight gets sloppy, then a foul off the ball before the ball is in. Lillard goes to the line. Why won’t you let me love you, Houston Rockets? WHY?!?
• Portland 97-88 at 8:43
• Dwight with a 3-second violation.
• Watching this game on my phone at a Starbucks and the kid next to me is bitching about how hard his organic chemistry is. I’m watching a Rockets/Trailblazers game, kid. Walk a mile in my moccasins.
• My streaming goes down with about 4 minutes left. Not anticipating a comeback, here. I’ll circle back and finish these notes later.
• Rockets lose 116-103.
• Rockets have lost 5 of their last 7. This is so frustrating because the fixes are so simple. Stop turning the ball over and give a damn on defense, and maybe you’ll pull yourself out of the, wait for it, NINTH SEED.
• We do have something to look forward to after the All-Star break—-D. Mo returns.

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