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Live from the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers welcome the Houston Rockets. Sunday was a monumental night for the Blazers as the team entered their game against Atlanta as healthy as they have been in years. That lasted all of a few minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge aggravated his left knee during the first quarter, and while he was able to return in limited capacity, he did have a precautionary MRI taken yesterday (results = negative). Aldridge is expected to be on the court tonight, but his staggering amount of minutes played this season (2344, second best in the NBA) seems to be wearing on him. In other Blazers injury news, Rudy Fernandez will sit tonight with a tummy ache.

Come stomach another Blazers live-blog...

PRE-GAME:
Marcus Camby is no longer a prisoner to his minutes. The Blazers' center has the green light to exceed the 20 minute mark, but his teammate Brandon Roy will still be capped around 15 minutes tonight (he'll exceed that by the third quarter). Roy is also planning to sit tomorrow when the team travels to Sacramento. Good plan, no one should have to go to Sacramento.

Gerald Wallace was presented with a headband today by Coach Nate McMillan—but he did have to remove it from McMIllan's head with his teeth, wedding garter style—meaning the newest Blazer can finally return to his signature look. Speaking of signature looks, Joel Przybilla has lost his. The man leaves Portland for a few days and just lets himself go.

The Rockets have dropped the two previous meetings with the Blazers this season, but they are riding high on a four game win streak, including victories in their last five road games. Houston is eyeing the final Western Conference playoff slots, once of which the Blazers are currently clinging to.

FIRST QUARTER:
11:34 - Wesley Matthews opens the game with a short jumper. First time in awhile the Blazers don't start off the game by going through Aldridge. 2-0 Blazers.

9:07 - Miller accidentally (well, not really) shoves Kyle Lowry into the first row of seats while waiting for an inbound pass. Oddly enough that was not a foul. Lowry almost hit Paul Allen, which would have been a bad move for all players involved. 6-4 Blazers.

6:45 - Fancy under the basket layup from Chase Budinger. We're both from Encinitas, CA. As is Eddie Vedder. And Switchfoot! And Jenny Craig! 14-10 Rockets.

5:35 - Wallace's headband checks into the game, Batum celebrates the team's headwear freedom with a three from the corner. 16-13 Rockets.

3:47 - Wallace wrestles away a rebound, hits the floor, and tips the ball to Aldridge for a dunk. And there it is, the best play of his Portland career. 18-15 Rockets.

2:53 - The Blazers have missed more than a few shots at the lip of the basket. Perhaps it's their fear of Houston shotblocker Dikembe Mutumbo. What's that? He's retired? Maybe it's Yao Ming. What's that? Done for the year? I guess it's Chuck Hayes, the smallest center in the entire NBA. 24-19 Rockets.

1:09 - Wallace with bullet pass across the length of the court to hit Miller for the layup. That was impressive. Lowry answers for Houston with a three. No much Blazers defense so far. 30-23 Rockets.

0:30 - Lowry again for three. But then Wallace answers with a three of his own. No goggles though, they'd distract from his headband. 30-26 Rockets.

0:00 - Lowry finishes the first quarter with eight points, six assists and four boards. Poor Goran Dragic, he went from playing behind Steve Nash to playing behind a guy who is younger and possibly just as effective. 30-26 Rockets.

SECOND QUARTER:
11:28 - Roy to the basket. He jumped and landed on his knees and everything. I consider that a victory. 32-28 Rockets.

9:38 - Wallace plows through three Rockets players, misses the shot, yet still keeps the ball alive. Sadly the play ends when an alley-oop to Roy rims off (since he's not exactly in slam dunking condition these days). 36-32 Rockets.

8:52 - Batum fouled while heaving up a three. That'll be three shots from the charity stripe for Frenchy #88. And he hits all three. Might as well goggle up after that. Same result. 38-35 Rockets.

7:37 - Brad Miller has a Scrappy Doo tattoo. I am serious. 40-35 Rockets.

5:58 - The Rockets are still shooting over 61%. Even worse, this is coming against a Blazers team with Matthews, Batum, and Wallace on the floor. 44-37 Rockets.

4:28 - Aldridge has just two points so far. Is it the knee? Or the fact that he's being guarded by a guy with a Scrappy Doo tat? Both are horrible options. 44-40 Rockets.

2:52 - Lowry dives for a loose ball and ends up three rows into the seats. Now he's been in the seats on both sides of the court. That's pretty impressive. 49-40 Rockets.

2:21 - The Blazers are having a tough time moving the ball, and not turning it over in the process. They have eight assists as a team, and nine turnovers. Coupled with Houston's high shooting percentage, Portland should be grateful they are not losing by more than nine. 49-40 Rockets.

1:49 - Roy allows Martin to dribble by him and lay it in. That was embarrassing. I understand he's not back to full strength, but there couldn't have been less effort on that play. 51-40 Rockets.

0:00 - The hangover from Sunday's loss to Atlanta has continued for the home team. Houston takes a double digit lead into the break, and the Blazers do not look too promising right now. 53-42 Rockets.

HALFTIME:
Houston got the better of Portland in almost every single category: Shooting percentage, steals, assists, rebounds, guys with tattoos of secondary Scooby Doo characters... everything. That was not a good half for the Blazers.

THIRD QUARTER:
11:17 - Scola with a jumper, followed by a breakaway dunk by Budinger and a jumper by him. 17 point lead, just like that. 59-42 Rockets.

10:07 - Another dunk from Budinger and McMillan calls a timeout. It's gonna be a long second half. 61-44 Rockets.

8:59 - Batum for three. Looks like Portland has decided to start scoring in the second half, instead of their previous strategy of letting Houston tire themselves out with all those wide open dunks. 62-49 Rockets.

8:00 - Batum attempts another three with 23 seconds on the shotclock. It misses, Houston scores on the ensuing fast break. 64-49 Rockets.

6:54 - With that basket Aldridge now has more points than turnovers. I'm a glass half-full kind of guy. 66-51 Rockets.

5:55 - Someone just screamed "PLAY SOME DEFENSE." Sadly it was not McMillan, just someone in the 300 level. 66-51 Rockets.

4:49 - Hey, where are all the other Ezras? I feel so lonely. 70-55 Rockets.

3:09 - Wallace hits another three. That shot is not supposed to be in his arsenal, but Portland will take all they can get right about now. 75-61 Rockets.

2:40 - Wallace again from deep. Houston wisely calls a timeout. 75-64 Rockets.

1:34 - Scola puts an end to the Blazers brief little offensive spurt. 79-66 Rockets.

0:01 - Portland drops another quarter to Houston. This game is a lot like Sunday's defeat by Atlanta, same results, just a different day. 83-68 Rockets.

FOURTH QUARTER:
11:08 - The Rockets are over 60% shooting, thanks to back-to-back baskets to start this quarter. Also notably is that the Blazers were just booed after that last possession. In the Rose Garden. 87-70 Rockets.

9:01 - Shotclock violation. More boos. 89-72 Rockets.

8:55 - It's been awhile (as in years) since Portland has played this poorly here at home. 89-72 Rockets.

6:42 - Batum hits a three. It's a comeback! Wait, let me check the scoreboard first. 14 point lead? Eh, never mind. 91-77 Rockets.

4:54 - Wallace mows over Courtney Lee. Foul on Lee, who is still on his back. Crash just crashed all over him. 95-80 Rockets.

4:15 - Lee for three. That's it. McMillan should start yanking starters, especially Aldridge. With a back-to-back game tomorrow night on the road, there is no point. 98-80 Rockets.

4:08 - I was wrong, this game is way worse than the loss to the Hawks on Sunday. This team is a mess. No rhythm, no defense, and no real chance of winning these past two games. 98-81 Rockets.

3:32 - No starters have yet to be pulled. 98-83 Rockets.

2:33 - Martin for three. Starters still not on the bench for Portland. 101-83 Rockets.

2:20 - Jarron Collins checks into the game for Aldridge. I'm sure these two minutes on the bench will cure his knee problems. 101-83 Rockets.

1:33 - What an ugly game. I'm glad the other Ezras were not subjected to this. Their tender eyes shouldn't have to watch such horrific basketball. 103-85 Blazers.

0:00 - The less we say about this the better. Your final score, Houston 103, Portland 87. We'll see you on Saturday night when Joel Przybilla's Charlotte Bobcats come to town. Time for this blogger to drink the pain away.