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Rockets defeat Blazers 116-98

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 6, 2013 at 1:26 am •  Published: April 6, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Two more wins — or a win and a little help — and the Houston Rockets clinch a spot in the playoffs.

So they certainly weren't taking the slumping Portland for granted on Friday night when they thumped the Trail Blazers 116-98.

James Harden had 33 points and Jeremy Lin added 22 for the Rockets, who were without forward Chandler Parsons because of a calf injury.

"We did a pretty good job of staying aggressive and taking the ball to the basket," Harden said. "We were getting in the paint and staying in attack mode."

Houston (43-33) remained in seventh place in the Western Conference — three games in front of the Los Angeles Lakers — for its first playoff appearance since 2008-09.

The Rockets play at Denver on Saturday night before hosting Phoenix on Tuesday.

LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an ankle injury with 32 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers (33-43), who matched their season-worst slide with a seventh straight loss.

The Blazers were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Afterward, Wesley Matthews questioned the team's heart.

"It's not even about that (the playoffs)," Matthews said, vowing to have a talk with his team on Saturday. "We've got to play like this is the blessing it is."

Parsons, who is averaging 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds, sustained a right calf injury late in Houston's 112-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. The injury does not appear serious.

Houston was also without Carlos Delfino because of the flu.

Harden had 17 points in the first quarter. His jumper gave the Rockets a 27-22 lead but the Blazers stayed close, paced by Aldridge's 14 points and six rebounds in the period.

Houston took off on an 11-0 run to go up 44-33 on Donatas Motiejunas' layup and extended it to 59-40 on Harden's layup with 3:40 left in the half.

Portland responded with a 14-1 run to narrow the gap to 60-54 and wound up trailing 63-56 at the half. Aldridge led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds at the break.

Francisco Garcia's dunk made it 89-62 for the Rockets midway through the third quarter. Harden's short jumper pushed the lead to 110-90 with 5:35 left, and Portland fans started streaming for the exits.

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