Trail Blazers Even Up Series with Rockets

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Brandon Roy scored 42 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 107-103 on Tuesday night to even their playoff series at one game apiece.

Aaron Brooks led a late charge and finished with 23 points for Houston, which has not made it out of the first round since 1997. Von Wafer came off the bench to add 21.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 12 rebounds for Trail Blazers, who had never dropped the first two games of a playoff series at home and played one of their most physical games of the season.

Greg Oden's dunk pulled the Blazers into an 89-all tie with 4:45 left, before Steve Blake's finger roll put them ahead.

Portland extended the lead to 96-90 after Travis Outlaw hit a jumper and Roy made a falling-down 3-pointer.

The Rockets closed to 104-100 on Brooks' 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left. After Roy hit a free throw, Brooks made another 3 to make it 105-103 with 1.5 seconds to go.

Rudy Fernandez sealed the win hitting two free throws for Portland.

The Rockets took the first game 108-81 by building a big lead and stunning the nervous Trail Blazers from the start. Yao Ming was perfect, making all nine of his shots from the field and all six of his free throws for 24 points, all in the first half.

Blazers center Joel Przybilla changed it up against Yao for Game 2, fronting him rather than playing behind him. And coach Nate McMillan used both Przybilla and Oden -- both 7-footers -- at the same time, something he's done just once before.

Yao had 11 points and eight rebounds but got into foul trouble.

Portland had not been to the playoffs since the 2003 season. The team clinched the West's fourth seed and home-court advantage with a win over Denver in the finale.

Fans at the Rose Garden were undeterred by the Game 1 loss. One held a sign reading: "I Still Believe."

Ron Artest gave the Rockets a 24-18 lead with a fadeaway late in the first quarter. But the Blazers rallied to take a 28-26 lead on Roy's 3-pointer.

It was back and forth until Wafer's 3-pointer made it 49-45 and gave Houston an opening late in the half.

But Roy hit a layup late to make it 53-51 at the break. He and Aldridge scored the Blazers' final 19 points of the half.

Portland was cold to start the second half and the Rockets went on an 8-1 run to go up 59-54.

The Blazers were helped when Yao collected his fourth foul midway through the third quarter and went to the bench. Roy's 21-foor jumper put Portland ahead 66-63 en route to a seven-point lead.

Houston recovered, and Artest's dunk at the end of the third quarter tied it at 72.

The Rockets went up 86-83 midway through the final quarter, but could not put together any sustained runs.

Rockets reserve center Dikembe Mutombo injured his left leg in the first quarter and left the court on a stretcher.

Mutombo appeared to get tangled with Portland center Greg Oden and came down hard. He was prone on the court under the Blazers' basket for several moments before he was taken from the court. A preliminary examination showed a left knee strain, the Rockets said.

Mutombo played 18 minutes in Game 1 of the series and had nine rebounds.


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