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Friday November 7, 2008 6:46 AM

Ecstacy to Agony


Roy sinks 30-foot buzzer-beater to ruin Rockets' rally

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

Portland - For one fleeting moment, the Rockets appeared to have accomplished the impossible: Not only were they going to win a game they had no business winning, but Yao Ming – who struggled mightily for the second straight game – was going to be the hero. It all seemed too good to be true.

Unfortunately, it was.

Brandon Roy’s 30-foot buzzer-beater capped a wild night at the Rose Garden, giving the Portland Trailblazers a 101-99 overtime victory over Houston (3-2) in a game featuring more twists than a telephone cord.

Roy’s Hail Mary stole the spotlight from Yao, who just moments earlier had given the Rockets the lead with his own miracle shot – at 15-foot turnaround from the baseline with eight-tenths of a second left on the clock. Not only did Yao deliver after laboring through another off night (he finished 4-of-13 from the field), he was also fouled on the play by – who else? – Brandon Roy and converted the ensuing free throw to give Houston a one-point lead.

Unfortunately, the Rockets then fell victim to one final defensive breakdown in a night which had been filled with them. During a Portland timeout, Houston had decided to put Tracy McGrady on Roy, assuming Ron Artest would take over the assignment when the Blazers sent the inevitable screen to rub off Roy’s defender. But the pick never materialized, and during the Rockets’ brief instant of confusion a wide open Roy took the inbounds pass, turned and fired. Game over.

“It was a tough shot," said McGrady after the game. "I was anticipating a switch between myself and Ron. [ Roy] got free there. He didn’t set a pick and it was just a hell of a shot... I was anticipating there was going to be a screen for me coming up… We inverted that so if [ Roy] was going to come up, Ron was going to take him, but there was no screen set. He just went up there, caught the pass – 70-footer."

The game began with Luis Scola and Rafer Alston carrying the Rockets offensively in the first quarter, as the two teamed up to score 13 of the club’s first 15 points. Meanwhile, Houston’s triumvirate of stars struggled mightily attempting to find their range as Yao, McGrady and Artest shot a combined 1-of-10 from the field in the game’s opening frame.

The Rockets fared far better during the next twelve minutes – at least on the offensive end. Aaron Brooks got things going with seven quick points off the bench, before T-Mac (30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists) took over by repeatedly attacking the basket, generating some easy buckets for himself as well as his teammates. It all added up to the Rockets shooting a blistering 75% (on 12-of-16 shooting) from the floor in the second quarter. Unfortunately for Houston, the club’s defense went to sleep as soon as its offense showed signs of stirring from its slumber. Portland scored 31 points in the frame – the final two coming on a LaMarcus Aldridge 20-footer with 2.9 seconds left in the quarter, giving the Blazers a 52-51 lead at the break.

Aldridge kept things rolling in the third quarter, scoring 8 points in the first six minutes of the second half. The University of Texas product used an array of jumpers and fadeaways to repeatedly burn the Houston defense. Only the inspired play of McGrady kept the Rockets within striking distance heading into game’s dramatic final quarter.

Quotes:

Ron Artest

(On Roy's shot) "It was a good shot. Sometimes situations like that go your way and sometimes they don't. It wa a really good shot. I'm kind of proud of him. He's come a long way and is a really good player. He squared up and focused, and that shot had to go in."

"We started out the season 3-0 and I don’t think that did us any good because it didn’t give us a chance to see what we need to work on. The last couple games that we’ve lost, I think that’s doing us much better now because we’re getting a chance to see what we need to do to improve. I definitely have to back off a little bit, because you can’t have me, Yao and Tracy taking all the shots, so it’s better that I let them do what they need to do, then I can chip in and be ready."

Tracy McGrady

(on having to carry the offense) "That's part of who I am and what I need to do for the team. When guys are struggling offensively, I've got to find some way to get the ball in the hole whether it's me scoring or me making plays for my guys."

Blazers Coach Nate McMillan

“The guys responded to the challenge. We talked about it today at practice and we all knew what we needed to do to play a full 48 minute game. I think we earned this victory. Big Duck (Kevin Duckworth) on his night apparently was looking down on us. He didn’t want us to lose on his night. But that’s basketball. Your emotions go from high to low and back to high again.

“We really got a break. With just that much time on the clock (0.08 seconds), its just a catch-and-shoot situation. Steve Blake had three options---Rudy, Brandon and Travis. Brandon was the first one who sprang open, receiving the ball well behind the line (three-point). In the huddle I could tell he wanted the ball. He really wanted it. Last night I basically challenged he and LaMarcus and told the whole team we need to finish games.

“For the first time in a long time in the first quarter we saw our guys on the floor battling for the ball. Defensively we played as well as we can, I think, at this stage of the season. We needed this. Everybody played well. I thought Sergio really did a good job.

“Yes this was a big win against a really good team but we can’t overlook anybody. So when Minnesota comes in here Saturday, we’ve got to look at it as a critical home game before a long road trip.”

BRANDON ROY

“In this league we’re never out of it. I was so disappointed that I fouled on the last play (on Ming’s shot with .08 seconds left). I told the group whatever you do, give me the ball and I’m gonna try to make the shot. We always talk in practice with .08 you can catch and shoot, you still can get a shot. So I’ve sort of thought it was like practice so when I get the ball I was going to try and get a good look. It was a great shot and I’m just happy to get the win for my team. We’ve beat two of the best teams in the NBA in our building. And we have another game at home. We’ve just gotta believe. That’s what the fans help us do. And that’s what everybody in the lockerroom believes.

“I kept telling L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge) in the fourth quarter, just be patient, I’m going to keep coming to you. He carried us all night long. I said ‘I’m going to try to make a play for us down the stretch’ and was fortunate to make the shot.”

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