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Rockets survive tight finish to go up 2-1 on Blazers

The Sports Network

4/25/2009 1:14:20 AM

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Aaron Brooks sank four free throws in the final 20.4 seconds and got a key offensive rebound at the conclusion, helping the Rockets to an 86-83 win over Portland and a lead after three games of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

Brooks had just 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting for the Rockets, who grabbed a 2-1 edge in the series with Game 4 slated for Sunday at 9 p.m. (et), again at the Toyota Center.

Luis Scola had 19 points and nine rebounds for Houston, which also received 16 points from Shane Battier. Yao Ming was limited to seven points, but also had 13 boards and three blocks for the Rockets, who nearly wasted a 17-point first-half lead.

It was a much different result than Tuesday when Portland won 107-103.

"We defended a lot better tonight," said Rockets coach Rick Adelman. "If we defend the way we're capable of defending and played as hard as we played we can win the game. As long as guys step up, and we had guys that did step up. That's what you have to have."

Brandon Roy scored 19 before fouling out in the final minute for Portland. Steve Blake added 16 points and 10 assists, but missed a potential tying three-pointer with under 10 seconds left.

Rudy Fernandez totaled 17 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge scored 13 to go with eight rebounds and four blocks in defeat.

"I thought tonight it felt kind of like helter-skelter out there," said Blazers coach Nate McMillan. "There was really no rhythm, right from the start. It just seems like the team that established itself from the beginning of the game, has been the team that has won the game."

Brooks sank 1-of-2 foul shots for an 81-77 lead with 20.4 seconds left, but Fernandez came back with a three from the left corner. Brooks then sank two more from the charity stripe, but Blake rushed a potential tying shot, with the basketball falling well short of the rim.

Battier made both his free throws with nine seconds to go, but Blake made a three with 3.5 ticks remaining.

Brooks was then quickly fouled with 2.7 seconds left. He made the first, but the second try kicked off the heel of the rim. Brooks, though, raced to the left baseline to get the ball and ran out the remaining time.

Portland was limited to single digits until the final 1-plus minute of the opening quarter and trailed 21-15 going to the second.

Houston continued to set the pace, moving to a double-digit lead quickly and maintained at least a 10-point lead for most of the second quarter. Carl Landry hit consecutive jumpers for a 38-25 difference and it was 48-37 at the half.

Scola's driving layup expanded the margin to 54-37 less than three minutes into the third, but Portland trimmed the deficit to 66-59 moving to the fourth. Houston built the lead back to 11 in the fourth before the game tightened.

"We felt like we got going late and that seems to be the primary time to come in this building," said Roy. "We allow them to build leads and then try to fight back. I think on Sunday we have to try to build a lead ourselves instead of trying to fight back late. We have to be much more aggressive early."

Game Notes: Blake went 4-of-7 from three-point range...Landry had 10 points...The Rockets held a 41-32 rebounding advantage...Battier had four blocks.