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                  === Rockets battle Blazers in Rose City ===
 (Sports  Network) - The Houston Rockets begin a three-game, West-Coast trip on
 Friday  night  when they  head to  the great Northwest  to battle the Portland
 Trail Blazers.
 The  Rockets have  won two  of the  last three  and have  done it  without the
 services  of head coach Kevin McHale. He took a leave of absence from the team
 on Saturday to attend to a personal matter.
 Houston  has been  in  the  national headlines  lately  with  the Royce  White
 situation.  The  16th pick in this  summer's NBA Draft, White battles a severe
 anxiety disorder, but has not attended practices. He was sent to the D-League,
 but  is  embroiled in a  standoff with the Rockets  about how he perceives the
 team is helping him with his illness.
 On the court, the Rockets have responded to interim coach Kelvin Sampson. They
 are  2-1  under Sampson  and their  last victory came  Wednesday night at home
 against the New Orleans Hornets, 100-96.
 Harden  rebounded after  some  sub-par  scoring nights  on  Wednesday with  30
 points.  Four other players scored in double-figures and the Rockets will look
 to avenge an early-season loss.
 Houston fell 95-85 in overtime to the Blazers on Nov. 3 in Houston.
 "We  felt like that was a game we could have won," Sampson said after practice
 on  Thursday.  "The challenge  with Portland  is their inside/outside. They're
 well put together, too."
 The Trail Blazers halted a four-game losing streak Tuesday night in Sacramento
 against the Kings with a 103-86 victory. They beat up on a depleted Kings team
 without  DeMarcus  Cousins, Isaiah Thomas,  Francisco Garcia and Aaron Brooks,
 who left the game with a sore left ankle.
 All  five  Portland  starters  reached  double-figures,  but  the  bench  only
 contributed 19 points in a blowout win. Rookie standout Damian Lillard led the
 way  with 22 points and nine assists against the Kings and center J.J. Hickson
 registered a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
 LaMarcus Aldridge battled through a wrist injury to put up 19 points.
 "The  game goes through him on the block. We're a better team when he's on the
 floor," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts.
 Portland  has  allowed 100  points or more  in five of  their eight games this
 season,  although  in their last  two, neither the  Kings or the Atlanta Hawks
 reached  the  century mark. The only  other time that happened this season was
 the overtime contest with the Rockets.
 The  Blazers are 28th in the NBA in opponents scoring and are one of just five
 teams in the league allowing 100 points or more per game.
 Prior  to the  earlier victory by Portland,  Houston won four in a row against
 the Trail Blazers and are 3-0 in their last three in the Rose Garden.
 11/16 10:36:08 ET

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