Primetime With Isaac and Suke
Weekdays 3pm - 7pm

Local: 503.250.1080
    Toll Free: 866.358.1080
| More
NBA Basketball
Scoreboard|Playoffs|Stats|Standings|Teams|Players|Player News|Injuries|Transactions

Rockets-Trail Blazers Preview

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

By ANNE M. PETERSON

AP Sports Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Rockets reached back into their history to stave off elimination in their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Houston earned the nickname "Clutch City" back in the mid-1990s when the team won back-to-back NBA championships. The Rockets brought the moniker back for Game 5 against the Blazers with a pep talk from a star of that team and T-shirts for their fans.

Now Houston will see if this team has that historic resilience as the series moves back to Portland for Game 6 on Friday night.

The Rockets are still down 3-2. So, lose and their summer starts Saturday.

"I don't want to go on vacation," Dwight Howard said. "I want to win. I want to give everything I've got. Every night, put my heart into it and sacrifice my body and do whatever I can to help this team win. It's not going to be easy."

After losing the opening two games in Houston, then claiming one of a pair in Portland, the Rockets rallied for a 108-98 victory on Wednesday night to narrow Portland's advantage in the series. Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin redeemed himself from a poor performance in Game 4 with 21 points off the bench.

The Rockets limited All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to eight points after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Damian Lillard added 26.

Aldridge said Houston wasn't doing anything differently.

"No, that was just how the game went," he said afterward. "The ball didn't come to me as much tonight. Our guys were making shots and we were playing off them and that's how the game went. It wasn't about how Dwight (Howard) guarded me or anything like that."

The Rockets were simply determined playing in front of a crowd wearing red Clutch City shirts. Former guard Mario Elie gave the team some impassioned words of encouragement during practice a day earlier.

Elie, affectionately nicknamed Junkyard Dog for his tenacity, was known for clutch 3-pointers, including one that helped advance the Rockets out of a second-round playoff series against Phoenix in 1995. Houston, down 3-1 in the series against the Suns, went on to win its second straight NBA title.

Wednesday night's victory gave the Rockets confidence that it could happen again.

"We're not hanging our heads at all. We believe in each other and in that entire locker room nobody thinks this series is over," Rockets forward Chandler Parsons said. "We have a chance to do something special here and we've got to continue to do that and take it one game at a time."

Only eight NBA teams - including the '95 Rockets - have rebounded from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series to advance. The last was the Suns, who came back to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in a first-round series in 2006.

Portland is making its first playoff appearance since 2011. Aldridge helped the Blazers steal the first two games in Houston, scoring 46 points in a 122-120 overtime Game 1 win, then 43 in a 112-105 victory.

The Rockets claimed the first of two in Portland, 121-116 in overtime, led by James Harden with 37 points. The series' third OT game ended in a 123-120 Blazers win.

The Blazers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for their last six trips. The team hasn't advanced since 2000, when Portland made it to the Western Conference finals, losing in seven games to the Lakers.

Blazers center Robin Lopez doesn't believe the Blazers have lost their edge with the Game 5 loss.

"I think we may have underestimated how desperate they were going to come out," he said. "I'm excited for Game 6 and I know that they will come out with a greater level of intensity and confidence and we will have to try and match it, overcome it."

Updated May 1, 2014

w9 © 2015 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

The Fan's Top Stories

NBA Playoffs on The FAN


The FAN is your home for the NBA Playoffs. Listen to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals with ESPN, and follow The FAN's AP NBA Page for previews and recaps.

NFL to change extra-point kicks to longer distance


(AP) The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers. The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee's proposal to . . . more.

Golfers scoff at Chambers Bay warnings


(AP) Mike Davis hasn't caused this much consternation since he spoke at a PGA Tour players meeting about the evils of the long putter. Only this time, he was extolling the virtues . . . more.

Kraft: Patriots won't appeal


(AP) Now that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is not appealing his team's punishments in the deflated footballs scandal, only his quarterback's challenge remains. More.

Gasol to consider free agency options


(AP) The Memphis Grizzlies head into the offseason with a major goal: re-signing their free agent All-Star center. Marc Gasol is in no hurry, he's on his own timetable. More.

Aldridge has thumb surgery


(AP) Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge had surgery Monday to repair a ligament in his left thumb. The team said in a statement that . . . more.

Carroll: Irvin's comments misinterpreted


(AP) Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin's recent declaration that he would be playing in Atlanta in 2016 doesn't mean what everyone thinks it does, according to coach Pete . . . more.

NCAA body calls for 30-second shot clock


(AP) The NCAA made a series of changes to men's college basketball two seasons ago in an attempt to boost scoring and reduce physical play under the basket. More.

49ers DL Justin Smith retires


(AP) When Justin Smith decided that his body wouldn't let him perform up to his own lofty standards, he knew it was time to stop playing. Smith announced Monday that he is . . . more.

The Mariners Page


For the latest on M's Baseball, including player moves, previews, real time gamecasts and recaps, head to The FAN's Mariners Page.

The FAN's Golf Page


The FAN's Golf Page is where you can go for the latest AP coverage of the PGA, LPGA, Web.Com, European and Champion's Tour info. From leader boards to stories, it's all right here.