PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Led by newest member Tracy McGrady, Houston’s reserves carried the Rockets to victory.
“It’s a great tribute to our group … I think we’ve found ourselves.” McGrady said.
Brandon Roy had 16 of his 23 points in the first half for the Blazers, who had won 12 straight at the Rose Garden. Portland made just seven of 30 shots (23.3 percent) in the second half.
Yao Ming started slowly for the Rockets but had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his 26th double-double of the season. Luis Scola had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Houston, which has won its last three and nine of 11.
McGrady led the way, despite missing his season average by seven points. But he was far from alone. The Rockets bench players outscored the starters 55-34 and all five reserves who played scored at least eight points.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 14 points and Travis Outlaw had 13 for Portland, which was outrebounded 48-30 and had its lowest scoring third quarter (12) , lowest scoring second half (29) and lowest shooting percentage (35.7 percent) of the season.
The Blazers were playing for the eighth time in 14 days, with the first seven games coming on a season-long road trip.
“We’re not going to blame this on fatigue,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “Every team in the league plays the same number of games.”
Roy was 7-for-10 from the field in the first half and the Blazers led by as many as 12. The Rockets committed 10 turnovers, three by Yao, who shot 0-for-3 from the field.
Roy hit three of his first four shots and Portland led 23-11 at 2:01 in the first quarter. McGrady came off the bench, as he has in three previous games back from a knee injury, and the Rockets came alive after he checked in.
The Rockets closed the gap with a 12-0 run, including five straight points from Bonzi Wells. Aaron Brooks converted a driving layup to tie the game at 32. McGrady put the Rockets ahead with a driving layup and free throw for a three-point play.
Roy hit a 3-pointer that put Portland up five at 3:02 in the second. He also hit an 18-footer with 22 seconds left and Portland led 50-42 at the half.
The scoring slowed dramatically in the third quarter, when the teams combined for 14 turnovers.
Houston opened the second half on a 14-1 run that erased Portland’s lead. The Blazers missed their first seven shots of the half, before Aldridge knocked down a 10-footer to pull them to 58-53.
Portland took back the lead on a jumper from Jarrett Jack that made it 62-60.
Scola, Landry and Brooks—all rookies—played nearly the entire fourth quarter for the Rockets.
“One thing about our young guys—they aren’t afraid,” McGrady said. “I didn’t expect after 11 years to be out there in crucial situations with three rookies. I can’t fathom that right now.”
McGrady didn’t score in the third but his jumper at 10:31 in the fourth put Houston up 66-65. Scola hit a 13-footer with 3:59 left to make it 79-73. Landry converted a three-point play and the Blazers didn’t challenge again.
“I think we’re a young team and we’re still finding our way,” Roy said.
Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard shot down a report that Portland was talking about a deal with the L.A. Clippers. ‘We aren’t making any trades,” he said. … Fans booed when Wells, who spent a turbulent six years with the Blazers, entered the game in the first quarter for Houston. Wells, who was playing despite flulike symptoms, mockingly waved to the crowd, which caused fans to boo louder. … Portland F Darius Miles, who hasn’t played since 2005-06 after microfracture knee surgery, was wearing a protective boot after suffering Achilles’ tendinitis while rehabbing.