Rockets-Trail Blazers Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers were on the wrong end of a blown call

in their last game. Still, coach Nate McMillan feels his team has

bigger concerns than the referees.

The Blazers look to rebound from a rare loss at the Rose Garden

on Wednesday night when they close a three-game homestand against

the Houston Rockets.

With Portland leading by two in the final seconds, LaMarcus

Aldridge was called for goaltending as Oklahoma City All-Star Kevin

Durant drove to the basket. Aldridge and the Blazers (14-11)

vehemently argued the call, but the result was overtime and an

eventual 111-107 loss to the league-best Thunder.

Portland, 11-2 at home, had won its previous five against

visiting teams.

“It’s tough. We definitely played well enough to win this

game,” Aldridge said after hitting all 11 free throws and scoring

a season-high 39 points. “We had some tough calls and then we had

some bad bounces late in the game. We have to learn from it.”

The NBA announced on Tuesday that Aldridge made a good block and

that there shouldn’t have been a goaltending call, but McMillan

isn’t going to dwell on the play. What bothers him even more was

his team getting dominated on the boards by 20.

“Regardless of that call, we’ve got to rebound,” said McMillan,

whose team also missed 15 of 20 from 3-point range.

The Blazers were outrebounded 54-46 in a 107-105 overtime loss

in Houston on Jan. 14. Aldridge sent that game to overtime with an

18-footer with 23 seconds left in regulation, but Rockets leading

scorer Kevin Martin closed out a 28-point performance by scoring

his team’s final six points.

Martin, though, enters this contest with just 10 total points on

2-for-19 shooting in the last two games after scoring eight in

Monday’s 99-90 victory at Denver.

The Rockets (14-11), though, improved to 1-1 on a season-high

six-game trip behind 25 points from Luis Scola and 20 from Kyle


“Anytime you can get a win on the road it’s huge,” Chase

Budinger told the Rockets’ official website after scoring 14 of his

16 after halftime.

Houston snapped a four-game losing streak in Portland in its

last visit, posting a 103-87 victory on March 1.

Lowry, who had 21 points and 11 assists in that game, could be

matched up with Jamal Crawford to start Wednesday’s game if Blazers

starting point guard Raymond Felton misses a second straight game

with a sprained left foot.

It’s uncertain if Portland center Marcus Camby, who had 15

rebounds on Monday, will be ready after missing Tuesday’s practice

with bronchitis. He was sidelined last month in Houston with a

sprained left ankle.

Nicolas Batum, a Rockets first-round pick in 2008, hit six 3s

and scored a team-high 29 points off the bench for Portland in that

matchup. The French forward has 46 points and has hit 10 of 21 from

long range in two games after missing two with an injured knee.

The last time the Blazers lost two straight at home was Feb. 27

to Atlanta and March 1 to Houston.