Blazers Beat Rockets 96-87

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Reserve Travis Outlaw scored 23 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets 96-87 in the season opener Tuesday night.

Brandon Roy added 20 points and five assists for the Blazers. Portland hit 20 of 22 free throws and outrebounded Houston 51-33.

Aaron Brooks had 19 points for the Rockets, who defeated Portland in six games this past spring in the first round of the playoffs.

That was a much different Houston team, though. Rockets center Yao Ming is out for the season after offseason foot surgery, and Ron Artest -- who pestered the Blazers -- left for the Lakers as a free agent.

Houston also remains without former All-Star Tracy McGrady, who had microfracture surgery on his left knee and isn't expected to return until midseason.

The absence of Yao brought matchup problems for the Rockets in trying to defend Portland's 7-foot center Greg Oden. Houston started 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes at center.

Oden, who was the No. 1 draft pick in 2007 but missed his rookie season because of microfracture surgery on his knee, played off the bench for most of last season but wrested the starting job away from Joel Przybilla this fall.

The emphasis for Oden against the Rockets was defense: He had five blocks to go with two points and 12 rebounds. He took just three shots, and didn't make one until a tip with 58 seconds left.

The Blazers were without Nicolas Batum, who was set to be a starting forward until Monday, when it was announced that he would need shoulder surgery and would miss at least three months.

In his place the Blazers started Martell Webster, who missed all but a few minutes of last season because of a foot injury. Webster finished with 14 points.

The Blazers pulled ahead in the first quarter until Trevor Ariza's 3-pointer tied it at 20 for Houston. Ariza signed with the Rockets as a free agent in the offseason after spending last season in Los Angeles.

But Outlaw hit on a dunk, a 3-pointer and another dunk to put Portland ahead 30-23 and kick off a 23-7 run that made it 46-30. The Blazers went on to lead 54-41 at the break. Outlaw had 14 points in the first half.

Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez, who missed much of the preseason because of back spasms, hit a 3-pointer to make it 67-48.

The Rockets narrowed it to 89-83 late in the game after Chase Budinger's dunk and a pair of free throws from fellow rookie David Andersen, but couldn't pull any closer.

The Rockets defeated the Blazers 4-2 in the playoffs, claiming their first postseason series since 1997. Houston lost in the conference semifinals to the eventual NBA champion Lakers.

Portland had not been to the playoffs since 2003.