Rockets hold off Blazers, extend home win streakFeb 25, 2009 - 7:28 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Ron Artest scored 21 points and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to lead the Houston Rockets to a 98-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Artest made four free throws in the final 16 seconds as the Rockets withstood a rally by the Blazers to win their eighth straight at home and fifth in a row overall.
Aaron Brooks scored 20 points and Yao Ming and Luis Scola each added 15 for Houston.
"We want to keep winning. In the West, it's a tough conference, and we need to keep winning so we can stay in the hunt," Brooks said. "In three games we could be in ninth place. We've got a lot of weapons on this team. Any given night, we could beat anybody."
Brandon Roy led the Blazers with 24 points.
The Rockets went on an 18-2 run late in the first quarter to take a 31-19 lead. Houston's biggest lead was 49-31 with 5:40 left in second quarter.
"We have to figure out why we have these bad starts," Roy said. "It's tough to come back and we couldn't get over the hump. We don't seem to fully understand the intensity we need to start the game."
Artest hit a jumper with 8:31 left put Houston up, 89-75, but the Blazers fought back. Portland had a run of its own down the stretch to climb back in the game but could never get over the hump.
"We played really well the first half. We struggled offensively the second half," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "Our goal was to win games on this homestand. We got five of them."
The Blazers used a 12-0 spurt to climb within 91-88 on a driving basket by Travis Outlaw with 2:49 left.
Roy made it 92-90 with a layup with 27 seconds to go and Brooks answered with a pair of free throws for the Rockets. After a dunk by Roy, Artest made two free throws and he added two more after Roy missed a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.
"The first half our offensive execution led to a lot of fastbreak points for Houston. They went on a big run in the first half and we didn't answer," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "The Rockets are a very good defensive team and they defended us well. We need to learn to have the same intensity and focus and learn how to play for 48 minutes on the road. We dug ourselves too big of a hole."
HOUSTON 98 FINAL
Feb 24 11:04 PM
HOUSTON 78 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 24 10:19 PM
HOUSTON 60 HALFTIME
Feb 24 9:38 PM
HOUSTON 31 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 24 9:07 PM
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