Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 11/12

Game 1: Tuesday, November 12th
Trail Blazers83Final
Game 2: Tuesday, November 26th
Trail Blazers77
Game 3: Wednesday, March 19th
Trail Blazers94
Game 4: Tuesday, April 8th
Trail Blazers81Final

Trail Blazers 83

(3-6, 1-5 away)

Rockets 86


7:30 PM ET, November 12, 2002

1 2 3 4 T
POR 29 19 16 1983
HOU 18 20 25 2386

Top Performers

Portland: D. Davis 12 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast

Houston: S. Francis 30 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Francis scores Rockets' final 16 points

HOUSTON (AP) -- A painful third-quarter fall couldn't stop Steve Francis.


Francis got up slowly from the spill but was going strong by the fourth quarter as he scored Houston's final 16 points and led the Rockets over the Portland Trail Blazers 86-83 Tuesday night.

"It was over exaggerated,'' Francis said. "I got up. As long as I get up, I'm OK. It's just something that happened.''

Francis, who scored 18 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, made a layup with 20 seconds left to put the Rockets ahead to stay at 85-83 and closed it out with a free throw.

Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds to play missed the mark and Eddie Griffin rebounded for the Rockets, ending the game.

Francis fell hard under Houston's basket with 4:43 left in the third quarter following a flagrant foul from Wallace. Francis remained in the game but took heat treatments on his lower back during each timeout.

"He's a warrior, there was no doubt in my mind if he could walk, he was going to play,'' Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "He had those headaches all last year and fought through them. He's a tough guy.''

Francis missed playing time last season with migraine-like headaches that have since been cured.

"Francis took over the game late and I thought we had good defense on him,'' Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When he's making his jump shot he's tough to stop. We didn't win the game because of the third quarter.

"We did some good things but not quite enough of them.''

With Francis carrying the offensive burden, the Rockets picked up their defensive pace to get the victory.

"Our defense won it,'' Cuttino Mobley said. "You have to play defense. Everyone knows I can score 22 points, but I have to show them I can play defense.''

Yao Ming played 15 minutes for the Rockets and scored seven points with four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.

Griffin had 14 points and Kenny Thomas added 12 for the Rockets. Portland had four players with 12 points each: Bonzi Wells, Dale Davis, Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis.

"We didn't shoot the ball well in the second half,'' Pippen said. "We tried to attack them in the zone.''

Houston started slowly, falling behind 27-13, and trailed 58-48 at halftime before pulling even at 76 on Francis' 18-foot jumper with 5:41 to play. He put them in the lead moments later, slamming home an alley-oop pass from Cuttino Mobley with 5:12 left.

"When he dunked that one, it was crazy after that,'' Mobley said. "We kind of took off and the momentum went our way.''

Maurice Taylor played in his first game in more than a year. He missed last season recovering from Achilles' tendon surgery and he was suspended the first five games this season for violating the league's drug policy.

"It's great to have him back,'' Tomjanovich said. "He made some big plays for us. It just takes time to get that playing shape.''

Game notes

Rockets starting C Kelvin Cato missed the game to attend the funeral of his grandmother. Moochie Norris wore armbands with Cato's jersey number, 13 ... Pippen, who played for the Rockets in 1998-99, is still roundly booed when he returns to Compaq Center. "They still love me here,'' Pippen said, smiling. "It doesn't bother me. I'm used to playing in hostile environments. It doesn't distract me.''

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 83 86
FGM-FGA 32-75 (.427) 35-80 (.438)
3PM-3PA 4-12 (.333) 4-17 (.235)
FTM-FTA 15-16 (.938) 12-16 (.750)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-41 12-40
Assists 22 18
Turnovers 13 11
Steals 3 9
Blocks 1 5
Fast Break Points 2 9
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/1) 17 (0/0)

Top Performers

Dale Davis Davis
Points: 12
Reb: 6
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Steve Francis Francis
Points: 30
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1