PORTLAND, Ore., March 19 (Ticker) --
It might be snowing in the Rocky
Mountains, but the Houston Rockets got buried in the Pacific
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One night after losing in Seattle, the Rockets fell flat in the
fourth quarter and suffered a 94-83 loss to the Portland Trail
The Rockets struggled to mount any offensive attack in the final
quarter, making just three baskets in the first nine minutes.
Houston could not get the ball to 7-5 rookie center Yao Ming
who took just one shot during that span.
"I think our biggest problem was not offensive but more
defensive," Yao said through an interpreter. "I don't care how
many times I touch the ball."
While Yao may not care, the Rockets might be concerned that they
did not find a way for him to get more touches on a night when
he shot 5-of-9 from the field.
"We got to just trust each other and make the extra pass," said
Houston assistant coach Larry Smith, who is guiding the team
while Rudy Tomjanovich recovers from a cancerous tumor in his
bladder. "So far, the last two ballgames, we have not done that.
Until we do that, we will continue to struggle."
After shooting 53 percent (29-of-55) from the field through the
first three quarters, the Rockets shot just 35 percent (6-of-17)
down the stretch.
"I don't think it was a problem of being tired," Yao said. "If
we knew what the problem was, then maybe we would have won the
The Rockets, who had their five-game winning streak stopped in
Seattle as they started a five-game West Coast trip, could not
find a hot shooter to bail them out down the stretch.
"The last two games is like we are back to where we were in the
beginning of the year and where we were before those five
games," said Maurice Taylor
, who shot 1-of-3 in the fourth
quarter. "We are not coming out with intensity, and teams are
getting big leads on us. You can't live like that if you are
trying to make the playoffs."
The Rockets remained tied with the Phoenix Suns for eighth place
in the Western Conference at 35-32. The teams are just 2 1/2
games ahead of Golden State, which beat Seattle.
hit a jump shot from beyond the foul line with
2:40 left to cap a 10-4 spurt that gave Portland an 89-76 lead.
Anderson had given the Trail Blazers some momentum by hitting a
3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer for a 72-66 advantage.
"DA was playing well," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "He
never came out the whole second half. I think if someone out on
the court is playing well, you leave them out on the floor and
you let the rotations take care of themselves."
Anderson led five Blazers in double figures with 21 points. Zach
added 14 off the bench for Portland, which won its
third straight home game.
"I'm looking to score, just taking my time and get it to the
hole because I know if I take my time I can score on anybody,"
Randolph said. "That's what coach told me to do and that's what
we need on this team."
paced the Rockets with 17 points. Taylor added 14
off the bench and Yao had 11.
Yao grabbed nine rebounds, but Houston was outrebounded, 37-28.
The Blazers shot 53 percent (39-of-74) from the field, including
7-of-13 by Anderson and 6-of-10 from Bonzi Wells
off the bench.
Wells scored five of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Anderson shot 4-of-7 on 3-pointers, collected seven assists and
grabbed five rebounds.
The start of the game was delayed as President Bush made his
address regarding the beginning of military action in Iraq.
"You realize what those people are doing for you," Portland
guard Antonio Daniels
said. "It doesn't make basketball really a
top priority. You have people over there who are defending for
you and some even dying for you. Something like this really puts
it all in context."