Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/21

Game 1: Friday, November 21st
Trail Blazers85
Game 2: Tuesday, December 9th
Trail Blazers91Final
Game 3: Friday, February 27th
Trail Blazers85Final
Game 4: Monday, March 22nd
Trail Blazers85

Trail Blazers 85

(29-29, 11-19 away)

Rockets 89


    7:30 PM ET, February 27, 2004

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 24 26 14 2185
    HOU 27 22 18 2289

    Top Performers

    Por: D. Anderson 22 Pts, 2 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl

    Hou: S. Francis 21 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 5 Stl

    Francis notches 21 points, five steals

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Steve Francis got everything right this time.

    Often criticized for shooting too much and passing too little, Francis had 21 points, a season-high five steals and four assists Friday night as the Houston Rockets snapped the Portland Trail Blazers' five-game winning streak, 89-85.

    The victory put the Rockets 10 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1998-99 season.

    "We can't be content being 10 games over .500. We have to be hungry," Francis said. "They're one of the teams breathing fire on our backs."

    Francis fed Maurice Taylor in the lane for a basket with 1:49 to play, then hit a jumper with 1:03 to go for an 89-81 lead.

    "It was good for us to get out and play the passing lanes and get a lot of steals," Francis said. "Coach wanted us to lock down. Fifty points (by Portland at the half) is too much."

    Cuttino Mobley added 16 points and Yao Ming had 13.

    Derek Anderson led Portland with 22 points and Randolph had 17 points and 17 rebounds, three short of his career high.

    "Every game now is important," Damon Stoudamire said. "We've got to understand that. We definitely have to catch them to get into the playoffs."

    Neither team could pull away in a back-and-forth third quarter that ended with the Rockets ahead 67-64 following two free throws by Francis and a basket by Jim Jackson in the final 40 seconds.

    Portland didn't lead again.

    "It's nothing big," Mobley said. "We're supposed to do things like this. Steve and I have been together for five years. We have to keep building, win these close games. Right now, we just have to get into the playoffs."

    The Trail Blazers committed 18 turnovers that led to 27 points for the Rockets.

    "The story of the game was turnovers by us," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Our turnovers led to baskets for them and kept us from scoring. Over the last span of games we haven't turned the ball over, but tonight we did."

    Portland fell behind by 13 in the first quarter but recovered with a 16-6 spurt to end the period. The Blazers extended that run to 26-8 early in the second period and held a 50-49 lead at the half.

    Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy wasn't too happy with the way Houston played at the end.

    "I thought the last two plays were a little shaky," he said. "We got a missed alley-oop and then a turnover. We're going to try and get better."

    Game notes

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim needs 16 rebounds to reach 5,000 for his career. He had one against the Rockets. ... The Rockets have had a winning record in each month this season. The last time that happened was in 1993-94 when they won the first of back-to-back NBA titles.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 85 89
    FGM-FGA 32-68 (.471) 34-75 (.453)
    3PM-3PA 6-11 (.545) 6-16 (.375)
    FTM-FTA 15-20 (.750) 15-22 (.682)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-40 8-34
    Assists 21 22
    Turnovers 18 10
    Steals 6 9
    Blocks 8 2
    Fast Break Points 2 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 16 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Derek Anderson Anderson
    Points: 22
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 21
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 0