Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/21

Game 1: Sunday, November 21st
Trail Blazers93
Game 2: Sunday, February 13th
Trail Blazers80Final
Game 3: Wednesday, March 16th
Trail Blazers77Final
Game 4: Wednesday, March 30th
Trail Blazers84

Trail Blazers 77

(23-39, 8-24 away)

Rockets 108

(39-25, 20-12 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, March 16, 2005

Toyota Center, Houston, TX

1 2 3 4 T
POR 25 18 21 1377
HOU 34 23 28 23108

Top Performers

Por: S. Abdur-Rahim 20 Pts, 4 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Hou: B. Sura 21 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Sura, T-Mac give Houston early liftoff

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Rockets didn't even need Juwan Howard to rout the slumping Portland Trail Blazers.

Playing their first game without their starting power forward, David Wesley and Bob Sura scored 21 points each to lead the Rockets to their sixth straight win, 108-77 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Houston, which had its largest margin of victory this season, took the lead midway through the first quarter with a 10-2 run, and Portland never threatened again.

Howard, who was averaging 9.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, is out at least four weeks after spraining his right knee Monday. Clarence Weatherspoon got his first start for the Rockets and had two points and four rebounds.

"We didn't focus on him not being there," Wesley said. "We just focused on what we could do. Everybody has to do it collectively. What we miss from him we have to make up by everyone else doing a good solid job."

It was the Rockets' first game back home after sweeping a four-game road trip over some of the best teams in the West, including Phoenix and Seattle.

Tracy McGrady added 19 points and six assists and Yao Ming had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Sura was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line and went 3-of-4 on 3-point attempts.

"He has a certain toughness and intensity that every team needs," Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "He can shoot the 3, and every team challenges him to make 3s. Hopefully he can continue to do it."

Houston was 36-of-71 from the field and 8-of-16 from 3-point range.

"When you shoot the ball that well and you have Yao Ming on the team, there is really no chance of beating them," Portland coach Kevin Pritchard said. "They have so many pieces."

Wesley, who was 2-of-3 from 3-point range, has scored 20 points in three of the last four games.

"We have a deep team," Sura said. "We've been able to suffer some injuries and been able to get through it."

Shareef Abdur-Rahim led Portland with 20 points and Joel Przybilla had 18. About the only bright spot for the Trail Blazers was their free throw shooting, where they made 20 of 23. Portland was 26-of-74 from the field.

"Our defense is our offense," Yao said. "When our guards shoot that well, it puts a great deal of pressure on our opponents to guard the perimeter. They have to use a lot of energy on defense and that makes things easier for us."

Portland has lost nine of its last 11 games.

"It hurts now and it stinks that we are losing," Pritchard said. "We are all struggling with the losses."

This winning streak is the Rockets' second-longest of the season after winning eight consecutive games in February.

Game notes

Howard attended Wednesday's game on crutches, vowing to return in time for the playoffs. "We don't need anything like this to happen now," Howard said. "It's very frustrating and tough for me to deal with. But I'm going to work very hard to get back." ... Weatherspoon became the 16th player to start for the Rockets this season. ...Trail Blazers forward Theo Ratliff missed the second half with a stomach virus. He had three rebounds in 13 minutes in the first half. ... Portland's Darius Miles missed his second straight game to be with his mother, who is having major surgery in Portland this week. ...The Rockets are 14 games over .500 for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 77 108
FGM-FGA 26-74 (.351) 36-71 (.507)
3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 8-16 (.500)
FTM-FTA 20-23 (.870) 28-35 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-35 6-43
Assists 20 23
Turnovers 16 10
Steals 6 8
Blocks 7 7
Fast Break Points 10 24
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 4 31

Top Performers

Shareef Abdur-Rahim Abdur-Rahim
Points: 20
Reb: 4
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Bob Sura Sura
Points: 21
Reb: 2
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 1