Rockets 104, Trail Blazers 100
The Houston Rockets got back to their attacking style and snapped a three-game losing streak.
Aaron Brooks scored 33 points and Carl Landry added 21 in the Rockets' 104-100 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Brooks reached 30 points for the fifth time this season, and Luis Scola and Trevor Ariza added 12 points apiece for the Rockets, who've won 12 of the last 13 regular-season meetings with the Blazers in Houston.
The Rockets scored 52 points in the paint, repeatedly cutting through Portland's defense with aggressive drives down the lane. When Brooks wasn't slashing inside for layups, he was finding Landry or Scola open for easy shots.
``We wanted to attack a little bit more, and that's what we did,'' said Brooks, who also had seven assists. ``We can't be afraid of getting blocked. We've got to go in there and try it, just be more aggressive. We just need to play to really beat teams, rather than to play not to lose.''
Rudy Fernandez sank five 3-pointers and scored 25 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 for the Blazers, who played without injured leading scorer Brandon Roy for the fifth straight game. Portland has dropped five of its last seven, and four of the five games Roy has missed with a right hamstring injury.
``The point guards in the last few games have just blown by us,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. ``The weak side is not helping and we are not guarding anyone. We have to bend our knees and guard somebody.''
The Rockets opened a 13-point lead in the third quarter, repeatedly finding openings in the lane. Portland missed six of its first eight shots out of the break and struggled to contain the speedy Brooks, who had nine points and three assists in the quarter.
``He is extremely quick and very good with the ball in his hands,'' said Portland point guard Steve Blake. ``You really can't lay off him because he shoots the 3-pointer so well. He is a tough cover.''
Fernandez and Blake sank 3-pointers late in the third quarter to start a 14-5 spurt that cut the deficit to 79-75 early in the fourth.
Aldridge hit two free throws and a long jumper to tie it at 84 just before the 6-minute mark. Scola sank two free throws and Landry broke free for a dunk to put the Rockets back in front.
Landry dunked again with 2:22 left to put Houston up 96-92. Aldridge missed, and Brooks threaded a pass to Landry for a layup with 1:49 remaining.
The Rockets still had to sweat out the closing seconds, after Fernandez sank two 3-pointers to cut Houston's lead to two. Landry hit a free throw with 7.7 seconds left for a 103-100 lead. He missed the second shot, but Ariza rebounded and hit a free throw with 6.3 seconds left to put it away.
Houston finished 29-for-43 from the free-throw line.
``We just made it tough on ourselves,'' Landry said. ``But at the end of the day, we came up with a victory, and that's what we want.''
The Rockets shot 31.6 percent in the first quarter and trailed 28-18. Aldridge scored 12 points in the quarter, 10 in the last four minutes.
Houston backup point guard Kyle Lowry scored 11 points early in the second quarter, most of them on driving layups, to close the Rockets' gap. But Lowry came up limping after colliding with Aldridge on a drive with 8:24 left in the half. He stayed in the game for four more minutes, then went to the locker room with what the team said was a sprained left knee.
Houston coach Rick Adelman said Lowry would be evaluated on Saturday.
NOTES: McMillan said Roy would be re-evaluated on Monday and sit out the Blazers' game against Charlotte that night. McMillan was hopeful Roy would be ready for either Wednesday's game at Utah or Thursday's game against San Antonio. ... Olympic speedskater Chad Hedrick, who won gold at the 2006 Winter Games, attended the game. Hedrick, a native of nearby Spring, will leave this weekend for Vancouver, where the 2010 Games begin on Feb. 12.