PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Sebastian Telfair, a high school phenom
who made the jump right to the pros, has struggled this season.
On Wednesday night, he starred.
It was Telfair's first game-winner as a Blazer. Telfair finished
with 13 points and five assists.
"I would like to be on the court to have that opportunity every
time," he said. "I haven't gotten into the games that I've wanted
to this season. I'm still proving I can play basketball."
Zach Randolph had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers,
who led by as many as 10 points but nearly squandered the win.
Houston, which never led by more than four points, kept it close
in the final quarter, then fell behind 74-71 on Telfair's layup
with 2:02 left.
Keith Bogans missed what looked to be a sure layup before
Telfair's drive under the hoop and jumper on the other side gave
the Blazers the victory.
Yao Ming, who struggled with 13 points, could not make a shot
from under the basket as time ran out.
The 13th overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Brooklyn's
Abraham Lincoln, Telfair started this season as a starter but a
thumb injury slowed his progress while Portland's backcourt of
Steve Blake and Juan Dixon thrived.
But while some players have seemed a bit overwhelmed by the
team's performance this season -- the Blazers are 21-53 -- Telfair
has continued to work hard.
"I'm a professional. I'm going to continue playing," he said.
"I want to show that I can play."
The victory snapped a nine-game Houston winning streak over
Portland. The Rockets hadn't lost to the Blazers since an 85-78
defeat on Nov. 21, 2003.
This season, the Rockets beat Portland twice -- both times with
Tracy McGrady in the lineup. McGrady injured his back during the
102-84 victory over the Blazers on March 5, and hasn't played
Bogans had 20 points for Houston, which fell to 0-3 on its
six-game road trip.
Yao said his final shot was clean, it simply didn't fall.
"I got the rebound and looked outside for somebody to pass
to," he said, " but I saw the clock running down and thought
there wasn't any better than a shot in the paint."
Portland was riding its longest losing streak since the 1985-86
season, when the team lost 12. The franchise record is 13 games
during the 1971-72 season.
The Blazers were coming off a 122-83 loss Sunday at Seattle,
after which the players held a contentious closed-door meeting.
"We had to get some things off our chest," Portland center
Joel Przybilla said. "Nobody wanted it to end like this."
The Blazers took control Wednesday in the first half. After
trailing 27-24, Portland went on a 13-3 run for a 37-30 advantage
and held on to lead 43-39 at the half.
It was the first time Portland has led at the break since March
12, when the team went on to beat the Phoenix Suns 111-101.
Steve Blake's long jumper in the third quarter gave the Blazers
a 53-43 lead, their biggest of the game. Houston responded with a
14-2 run that put the Rockets ahead 57-55 on Bogans' layup.
After the game Blazers coach Nate McMillan proclaimed
"You don't want to be remembered for anything we were facing,"
^Notes:@ Blazers rookie Martell Webster said out of the game with
back spasms. Webster has been one of the team's bright spots
recently, averaging 12.8 points over the last five games. ...
Former Blazers president Harry Glickman took in the game. Glickman
recently wrote a commentary for The Oregonian newspaper suggesting
owner Paul Allen should sell the team. The billionaire co-founder
of Microsoft recently announced the team was hemorrhaging money,
and needed some kind of public support to remain viable.
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