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Trail Blazers tip Rockets for fifth straight win

Dec 21, 2006 - 7:20 AM PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Brandon Roy's first appearance in nearly six weeks paid immediate dividends for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Roy scored on a driving layup with 20 seconds to play to help the Trail Blazers hold on for an 89-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The sixth-overall pick by Portland in the 2006 draft, Roy suffered a heel injury and missed 19 games. But he was on the floor after the Rockets had cut a 10-point lead to 84-82 and came up with the play of the game to extend the Trail Blazers' winning streak to five games.

"I looked down at the bench and said, 'Please leave me in, please leave me in,'" Roy said. "After hitting a shot like that, it gives me lots of confidence for the next game."

Zach Randolph scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Portland, which withstood a 34-point effort by Houston's Yao Ming, including 17 in the third quarter.

Yao finished 12-of-21 from the floor and added nine rebounds and five blocks.

"Yao is getting excellent, you can't stop him," Randolph said. "He is a beast. He has turned into a baby Shaq.

"We hit a little lull in the fourth quarter, but we were able to step it up when it counted and able to execute enough to get the win. We didn't bow and were able to get stops when we needed them most."

Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was upset that Roy was able to score so easily at a critical juncture.

"That wasn't a tough shot. He was right at the basket," Van Gundy said. "That was very good offense by him and very poor team defense by us. We didn't defend the pick-and-roll right and then we didn't have any team help."

Rafer Alston and Luther Head added 20 and 17 points, respectively, for the Rockets and each hit big 3-pointers to close the gap in the final quarter.

"I think that we had a chance to win tonight but we had a couple of mistakes in the later part of the fourth quarter and we were not able to overcome them," Yao said. "Their shot blockers were tough tonight, especially from the weak side. We have to continue to try and improve with every game and I think that we will."

Jarrett Jack scored 10 points, including two free throws with 10 seconds to play, for the Trail Blazers.

Juan Dixon scored four points in a 10-0 second-quarter run to give Portland a 44-31 lead. The Trail Blazers took a 44-34 lead into the break and never trailed thereafter.

"Everybody is on the same page and we are just playing together," Randolph said. "We are going to try and make it six (straight wins) on Friday. One game at a time. This is what we need. Contributions from everybody and everyone stepping up."