Sunday, May 29 2022

Starting point guard Kevin Porter Jr. missed Friday’s home game versus Portland while in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to a pregame update by Rockets head coach Stephen Silas.

Porter had missed Thursday’s practice in Houston with what the team characterized at the time as a non-COVID illness. Silas indicated Thursday that he expected Porter to play on Friday.

However, it seems subsequent testing revealed it to be COVID-19, after all. A return timetable for Porter is not yet clear, though the NBA has recently modified its protocols to allow for quicker returns, particularly for players who are vaccinated and boosted (as Houston’s full roster is).

The timing could not be worse for the 21-year-old, who was playing his best basketball of the 2021-22 season over the previous two weeks. In Porter’s last six games, the third-year guard averaged 17.5 points (47.4% FG, 43.2% on 3-pointers), 7.0 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 31.4 minutes, and Houston went 3-3 in those games — making for a remarkable improvement relative to their 11-31 mark beforehand.

With Porter out, reserve guard Garrison Mathews appears to be the most likely candidate to join the starting lineup, with fellow guards Jalen Green and Eric Gordon likely to take on more ballhandling duties.

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