HOUSTON (AP)Damian Lillard scored 20 points, CJ McCollum added 17 and the Portland Trail Blazers cruised past the Houston Rockets 104-92 on Friday night, finally getting their first road victory of the season.
”It’s an easy story to tell, like, `Aww, they can’t win on the road,”’ Lillard said. ”It becomes a bigger deal than it really is. So, I’m happy that we ended that.”
Portland is 1-6 on the road and 5-1 at home. The Rockets are the league’s only winless team on the road at 0-7. They are an NBA-worst 1-11.
”We’ve had a tough go on the road so far,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. ”We had a pretty tough schedule. We give ourselves a chance to split (the four-game road trip) and feel pretty good about it.”
Portland led for most of the game, building a lead as large as 17 points, but Houston cut it to seven with less than two minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Kevin Porter Jr. before the Blazers pulled away.
”I didn’t think we had a good game,” Billups said. ”I’m happy to get that win. I felt like in the fourth quarter, we let off the gas a little bit. We didn’t do a good job of putting this team away. We had a whole bunch of opportunities.”
Porter led the Rockets with 18 points, Jae’Sean Tate had 14, and Christian Wood added eight points and 15 rebounds.
Lillard was 6 of 16 from the field, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. He added seven assists and five rebounds. Jusuf Nurkic had 12 points and 10 rebounds, going 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.
Houston led early, but Portland closed out the first quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 30-27 lead into the second quarter. The Blazers had a season-high 30 first-quarter points.
Portland led 55-45 at halftime in large part due to Houston’s ice-cold 2-for-18 shooting from the 3-point line in the first half.
The Rockets finished the game 7 of 32 from beyond the arc, just 21.9%. Houston also made just 17 of 27 from the free-throw line for 63%.
”The things we need to get better at, we did tonight,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. ”The turnovers have been a huge, huge issue, and 13 for us is a good number, and the shot quality, I thought was good. There is a recipe for our success, we’ve just got to stay with it.”
Trail Blazers: SF Nassir Little had a season-high 13 points off the bench, headlined by a thunderous third-quarter dunk over Rockets rookie C Alperen Sengun. Little added a career-high 14 rebounds for his first double-double since his rookie season in 2018-19.
Rockets: Sengun returned after a one-game absence with illness. Sengun had 12 points. . Tate received a technical from the bench following a foul called on him midway through the first quarter. The Rockets received three first-half technical fouls for addressing officials. . Eric Gordon matched a career high with three blocks.
LITTLE’S BIG NIGHT
Billups said Little is ”responding” well and spoke highly of the strides the guard has made early in the season. He said his thunderous third-quarter dunk was ”the kind of play we need him to make,” and will be great for his confidence. Lillard said he yelled at Little in the first half for trying to throw an alley instead of dunking in transition, and he redeemed himself later.
”I told him I was going to dunk it if he passed it to me in that area,” Little said. ”So that’s what I did.”
MOMENT MIXTAPE UNIS
The Rockets debuted their ”Momenet Mixtape” city edition uniforms, which paid homage to the navy uniforms of the mid- to late-90s and early 2000s. The navy uniforms featured white pinstripes, red trim and said ”Houston” across the chest.
ELIE’S BIG SHOT
As part of the Rockets’ ”Flashback Friday,” former player Mario Elie, who won back-to-back championships with Houston in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons, was selected to shoot the pre-game ”First Shot” for charity. Elie’s free throw attempt rimmed out.
Trail Blazers: At Denver on Sunday night.
Rockets: Host Phoenix on Sunday night.