Rockets 92, Trail Blazers 85
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Steve Francis had 25 points and Cuttino Mobley scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, leading the Houston Rockets to a 92-85 preseason victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
The loss spoiled the homecoming of Portland forward Scottie Pippen.
Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon twisted an ankle and left the game after the first quarter. Coach Rudy Tomjanovich was not optimistic about Olajuwon playing any more preseason games for Houston (4-1).
After taking the public address microphone to welcome the near-capacity crowd, Pippen finished with eight points and four rebounds in 29 minutes.
The Blazers (2-3) blew a 15-point second-quarter lead.
``We continued to turn the ball over and give them opportunities to get back in the game,″ Pippen said. ``In an NBA game, if you allow a team to hang around, then they have a tendency to steal the momentum from you and that’s pretty much what happened.″
Pippen was in the middle of the biggest turnover of the game. Double-teamed near the top of the key by Rockets guard Steve Francis, Pippen was stripped of the ball by Walt Williams. He fed Francis for a fast-break dunk that gave Houston the final basket with 27.1 seconds left.
Mobley scored eight straight points in the middle of the fourth quarter to give the Rockets the lead for good, 78-77.
The first NBA game in Arkansas in 20 years was a home game for Houston. But Portland had the hearts of the fans, thanks to Pippen.
``It was a wonderful feeling, something I can look back on in my career,″ said Pippen, who played at NAIA Central Arkansas. ``It’s great for the fans to see what the NBA game is really like. It’s a lot different than college.″
It was also a homecoming for referee and Arkadelphia native Gary Benson, a 13-year veteran who worked his first NBA game in his home state.