Rockets 93, Trail Blazers 91

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HOUSTON (AP)—The Houston Rockets have been nearly flawless at home, while the Portland Trail Blazers have been perfectly imperfect on the road.

Both trends held Tuesday night as Steve Francis hit a 16-footer with 20 seconds left to lead the Rockets to a 93-91 victory, keeping the Trail Blazers winless on the road.

Yao Ming missed two free throws with nine seconds to play, giving the Blazers a last chance. But Damon Stoudamire missed a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.

“Just losing on the road,” Stoudamire said. “I’m just tired of it. I’m going out tomorrow like it’s a war.”

Cuttino Mobley had 24 points while Yao had 16 points and eight rebounds. Francis added 15 points—including the biggest two of the night.

“It was a huge shot. We wanted him to take the ball and if they doubled him to throw it in to Yao (Ming). He just got some air space and lifted up and hit a big-time shot,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

The Rockets blew a 16-point lead and let Portland come back in the final minutes, but Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks was impressed with the way the Rockets hung on.

“Yao is a big target and they put the ball in his hands and he did a good job,” Cheeks said. “Francis also stepped up and made a big shot.”

Zach Randolph had 31 points and Stoudamire led a comeback with eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for the Trail Blazers, who fell to 0-7 on the road.

Cheeks still saw the positives.

“We got back in the game,” Cheeks said. “Houston played a high-level game for three quarters and somehow we started making our shots. We just couldn’t get the last stop.”

After being down by 16 in the third quarter and 10 with 6:17 to play, the Trail Blazers outscored Houston 14-0 to take an 89-85 lead with three minutes to play.

The Rockets tied it at 91-91 with 1:03 to play on two baskets by Yao, and the Trail Blazers went cold. Rasheed Wallace missed a 14-footer with 40 seconds to play and Randolph missed a six-footer with 11 seconds left.

Jim Jackson’s three-pointer capped an 8-0 streak that gave Houston a 59-44 lead with 7:32 left in the third quarter. Moments later, a 6-0 run behind Mobley’s four points gave Houston it’s biggest lead—67-51.

Francis and Mobley each had 13 as Houston held a 72-60 lead after three.

Maurice Taylor had four points in a 9-2 run that gave Houston its biggest lead of the first half, 45-39 with 2:36 to play in the second quarter. Taylor had eight points in the quarter as the Rockets led 47-41 at the half.

Randolph had 19 at the half, including 12 in the first quarter as the teamswent back and forth with neither leading by more than four.


The Rockets are 8-1 at the new Toyota Center … Portland had won fourstraight and seven of eight against Houston before Tuesday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
Z. Randolph Z. Randolph
12-25,  31 Pts
11 Rebs, 1 Assists
S. Francis S. Francis
6-16,  15 Pts
5 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders