HOUSTON, April 8 (Ticker) --
With their playoff hopes hanging in the
balance, the Houston Rockets tied a pair of embarrassing
franchise records in an 81-66 loss to the Portland Trail
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The Rockets' total matched their record-low output on December
21, 1996. Their 29.5 percent shooting (26-of-88) from the field
also tied a franchise record for futility.
"I guess bad shooting is contagious," said Rockets rookie center
, who shot 2-of-13 and scored six points. "It wasn't
one person not shooting well. It was everyone."
Houston (40-38) could not have picked a worse time for a poor
game. The Rockets fell 1 1/2 games behind the Phoenix Suns in
the race for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference
after the Suns won in Denver.
"We blew it," said Steve Francis
, who scored 12 points on
5-of-20 shooting. "We just have to watch film of it and come out
and do better."
scored 10 of his season-high 21 points in the
fourth quarter. The Rockets scored only 15 points in the final
"Some games you do different things," Stoudamire said. "I
haven't played off the ball much this year, but I hit a couple
of shots and got us going. I got into a nice offensive flow."
Houston went 8:29 between baskets in the second half and was
outscored 11-3 in that span. The Rockets got as close as 67-60
with 7:04 left, but could not make enough shots in the final
minutes to stay within striking distance.
"It was one of those situations where we just couldn't find the
range," Rockets acting coach Larry Smith said. "We had
opportunities and no one could put it in the basket. We tried
everyone in that stretch and nobody could hit."
Portland (48-29) moved a one-half game in front of Minnesota for
the fourth seed in the West. The Trail Blazers and
Timberwolves likely will face each other in the first round of
the playoffs, and the team finishing fourth gets home-court
"We knew we had to try to get a win tonight to start this trip,"
Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We're trying to play more
consistent basketball going into the playoffs and not be one
night up and one night down."
had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Arvydas Sabonis
added 11 and seven off the bench for the Blazers.
led the Rockets with 15 points, 11 in the first
In the third quarter, the teams combined for 25 points. Houston
scored only 10 on 3-of-24 shooting. Wells hit a 3-pointer from
the left corner to beat the buzzer and give Portland a 59-51
Houston did not score 20 points in any of the final three
quarters after taking a 23-19 lead after one period.
"We missed shots and that's all I can say," Francis said. "Right
now is definitely not the time where we want to be missing
shots. I don't think we were frustrated. At least we were
sticking with taking the same shots. I don't think we lacked
The Rockets won three of four games from the Suns and only needs
to tie Phoenix to make the playoffs.
"We have to ... put this game behind us," Smith said. "We know
that we had a poor showing tonight. We've got to get away from
it and worry about tomorrow night."
Houston's loss clinched a playoff berth for the Utah Jazz, who
host the Rockets on Wednesday.