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Portland at Houston

Rockets off to best start in 11 years with win over Blazers

CBSSports.com wire reports

HOUSTON -- The Houston Rockets have a new-look, fast-paced offense under Coach Rick Adelman.

For a half on Saturday night, the defense looked as stingy as it did under Jeff Van Gundy.

Yao Ming had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Tracy McGrady added 20 points and six assists as the Rockets improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 1996-97 season with an 89-80 win over Portland.

Yao scored only eight points and McGrady only five the second half, but the Rockets stayed in control with their defense, forcing 18 turnovers and holding the Blazers to 41 percent shooting (31 of 76).

Portland started making baskets when the outcome was decided. The Blazers trailed by 15 at the break after shooting 29.7 percent (11 of 37) and committing 13 turnovers in the first half.

"We made 'em take tough shots, we contested a lot of jumpers, we kept them out of the paint," said McGrady, who had one of Houston's eight steals.

Brandon Roy scored 23 and former Texas star LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 for Portland, off to its first 0-3 start since the 1986-87 season.

Following a 47-point effort at Utah on Thursday, McGrady started 4-for-8, then went 4-for-15 the rest of the way. Yao went 2-for-7 in the second half and even missed a dunk.

The Rockets never needed big games from either All-Star because the Blazers were off-target from the start.

Houston opened with an 18-4 run as Portland missed 14 of its first 17 shots. Yao and McGrady scored 20 points together in the first quarter as Houston built a 25-12 lead.

In their first two games, the Rockets fell behind early in Los Angeles and Utah and rallied to win both times.

"We came out better," McGrady said. "The last two games, we've been kind of flat. For the most part, we came out ready to roll in that first quarter."

Yao flipped in a turnaround jumper to start a 9-0 burst that pushed the lead over 20 early in the second quarter. Yao hit six of his first eight shots.

The Blazers cut Houston's lead to 15 before McGrady returned after a long rest. He hit two long jumpers, then drove through traffic for another basket to stretch the lead to 42-23.

"We need to get off to a better start," Roy said. "We can't dig such a big hole against a team that is as good as Houston."

Channing Frye and Aldridge scored inside in the first minute of the third quarter as Portland closed the deficit to 11. The Rockets missed their first five shots before Chuck Hayes made a layup off an assist from McGrady.

The Blazers hit seven of their first nine shots after the break and Roy's pull-up jumper with 6:03 left in the third quarter pulled Portland to within eight, at 54-46. Out of a time out, McGrady found Luis Scola for an easy layup to restore the double-digit lead.

Portland missed its last eight shots of the third quarter and Houston led 62-46 heading to the fourth.

Though the Blazers couldn't cut into their deficit, Coach Nate McMillan liked what he saw from his team out of halftime.

"They came out with fire and fight and were much more aggressive in the second half," he said.

Roy scored to end the Blazers' drought, but Mike James answered with a long jumper from the wing. James was 3-for-7 from 3-point range and scored 17 for Houston.

The teams virtually traded baskets until Aldridge scored twice to cut the deficit to eight in the final two minutes. McGrady finished off Portland with a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:25 left that put the Rockets up 83-72.

The Blazers failed to reach 20 points in any of the first three quarters, then outscored Houston 34-27 in the fourth.

"I'm not satisfied with the way we executed down the stretch," McGrady said.


  • The only real suspense in the fourth quarter came when the fans started chanting, "We want Steve!" hoping Steve Francis would check in. Coach Rick Adelman never appeased them. The Rockets signed Francis over the summer, but he has yet to enter the game. Adelman bristled when asked about it after the game. "I can't control that," Adelman said. "If people want to do that, that's part of the game, I guess."
  • Martell Webster had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers.
  • Portland plays its home opener on Wednesday against New Orleans. The Blazers started the season with three straight road games for just the second time in franchise history.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Watch out for Yao Ming. He has his way with Portland to the tune of 21 points, 12 boards.  (AP)
Watch out for Yao Ming. He has his way with Portland to the tune of 21 points, 12 boards. (AP)
Portland (0-3) 1219153480
Houston (3-0) «2521162789
POR:B. Roy 23 Pts
POR:J. Przybilla 8 Reb
POR:B. Roy 5 Ast
HOU:Y. Ming 21 Pts
HOU:Y. Ming 12 Reb
HOU:T. McGrady 6 Ast
Players of the Game

Y. Ming

B. Roy

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B. Roy, SG429-185-525123
M. Webster, SG355-133-480315
L. Aldridge, PF347-166-681520
J. Jack, PG261-50-04212
J. Przybilla, C202-42-28026
T. Outlaw, SF262-70-03024
S. Blake, PG263-30-05316
C. Frye, PF172-50-04014
J. Jones, SF130-40-02020
T. Green, PG30-10-00000
R. LaFrentz, PFDid Not Play
D. Miles, SFDid Not Play
S. Rodriguez, PGDid Not Play
J. McRoberts, PFDid Not Play
G. Oden, CDid Not Play
Totals 31-7616-1744111880
Y. Ming, C398-175-6122521
T. McGrady, SG388-232-236220
S. Battier, SF362-70-05125
R. Alston, PG244-90-03618
C. Hayes, PF232-20-06004
B. Wells, SG263-80-14136
M. James, PG245-144-431217
L. Scola, PF194-100-28228
L. Head, PG100-10-03410
D. Mutombo, CDid Not Play
S. Francis, PGDid Not Play
K. Snyder, SGDid Not Play
S. Novak, SFDid Not Play
A. Brooks, PGDid Not Play
C. Landry, PFDid Not Play
Totals 36-9111-1547231889
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