- Less than one month after suffering a fractured right hand, the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley will return to Houston’s starting lineup against the Trail Blazers. With Beverley’s conditioning in question because of the layoff, coach Kevin McHale said he will monitor the 6-foot-1 guard’s minutes closely. “Patrick’s a fiery guy who gets out and … puts pressure good pressure on the point of attack,” McHale said. “He’s just disruptive at times. … Patrick just adds another dimension of something that we don’t have, which is nice. Inside of your group, you want people to bring what other people don’t bring.”
- Just when the Rockets thought their entire starting five would be healthy enough to play together again, they have lost another starter to injury. Forward Terrence Jones, who has posted four double-doubles and averaged 21.6 points on 58.1 percent (43-for-74) shooting and 12.2 rebounds over his last five games, will sit out Monday with a deep bruise in his left thigh. Donatas Motiejunas will start in place of Jones, who suffered the injury when a teammate inadvertently kneed him during Sunday’s practice. “‘Don’t foul,’ I’ll tell [Motiejunas] that,” McHale said. “Don’t reach in. Don’t get silly fouls. You’re going to get enough fouls guarding [Portland star LaMarcus Aldridge]. Don’t get the silly ones, but that’s easier said than done at times.”
- Aldridge terrorized the Rockets last season, and that has yet to change so far in 2013-14. The 6-foot-11 forward, who poured in 31 points and grabbed a career-high 25 rebounds when these clubs last met Dec. 12 in Portland, has averaged 28.5 points in his last six meetings with Houston. “Aldridge is having a career year,” McHale said. “Some guys, it’s hard to get them uncomfortable. … He’s usually stretching the floor.”
- The Blazers (31-9) are attempting to complete one of the NBA’s most remarkable feats, as defeating Houston (27-15) will give Portland its first sweep of the infamous “Texas Triangle” since 1991. The Blazers began their three-game stay in the Lone Star state with a 109-100 win Friday at San Antonio before dumping the Mavericks 127-111 Saturday in Dallas. With a victory at Toyota Center, Portland will become the first team in the league to win three consecutive road games in Texas since the Boston Celtics in 2008. “Our mindset going into the trip was right because we knew it was going to be a challenge, and we had the right frame of mind and the right approach going into it,” coach Terry Stotts said. “This one is challenging because [the Rockets] are a very talented team, they have an identity, they have an inside-out attack … and they’re at home. They’ve got a lot going for them.”
- Houston reserves Francisco Garcia and Greg Smith remain out with respective knee injuries.
– Matt Miller