One night after the defending champion Houston Rockets took basketbal
One night after the defending champion Houston Rockets took basketball to its highest level, they took the game where it doesn’t belong _ into the stands against Portland.
The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Rockets 120-82 Monday night in a game that disintegrated into a series of confrontations in the second half.
The most alarming incident had Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry and Rockets assistant Larry Smith going into the stands during a timeout.
According to several witnesses, Maxwell punched a fan who admitted he heckled Maxwell throughout the game. Maxwell was ejected along with Horry and Smith. Earlier in the quarter, Houston’s Otis Thorpe and Chris Dudley were ejected after a scuffle.
``I guess it’s normal to have a bit of an emotional letdown after having such a big win,″ Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said, making a reference to Houston’s 124-100 victory at Phoenix. ``But we didn’t even put up a game. It was a wasted night.″
Maxwell faces at least a suspension for charging 10 rows into the crowd and slugging a fan, identified as Steve George, 35. George said many fans in his section heckled Maxwell all night.
``I’m a fan yelling about the game,″ he said. ``I was definitely riding Vernon, you know, `Five points, four fouls, you’re not having a good night.′ I don’t deserve to get hit in the face for that.″
The incident occurred during a timeout with 3:33 to play in the third period and Portland leading 79-52.
``Absolutely I’m pressing charges,″ George said as he held an ice pack on his left jaw. ``He hit me square...I was hit by an NBA player in the face while I was sitting in row L and I’m not happy.″
In the only other games Monday night, New Jersey edged Detroit 101-97 and Atlanta defeated Philadelphia 107-92.
Houston’s loss was its most one-sided of the season.
``That’s the nature of this game,″ Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon said. ``Yesterday you can be so up, so happy that you won. And tonight, this was a disaster.″
Clifford Robinson scored 20 points for Portland, and James Robinson, Jerome Kersey and Clyde Drexler each had 16 for the Blazers, who had a big second quarter for a 61-35 halftime lead. Kersey had a season-high 14 rebounds as Portland dominated the boards 59-39.
Olajuwon scored 22 points for the Rockets, who had their winning streak snapped at four.
The first ejections came with 11:29 left in the third period.
Dudley, who battled Olajuwon to a standstill in the first half, blocked Thorpe’s shot and grabbed the ball.
Thorpe tangled his arm with Dudley’s and was called for a foul. After the whistle was blown, Thorpe grabbed Dudley by the neck and the Portland center threw the ball at Thorpe, then the two threatened each other. No punches were thrown.
Nets 101, Pistons 97
Armon Gilliam scored a season-high 28 points and helped undermanned New Jersey outrebound Detroit 69-40 with 11 rebounds of his own.
The win was just the seventh in 22 games for the Nets, and they accomplished it with Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson sidelined with injuries.
Joe Dumars led the visiting Pistons with 27 points, and rookie All-Star Grant Hill had 23. Backup center Jayson Williams matched his career-high with 14 rebounds for the Nets.
Chris Morris, who had 19 points, provided the highlight of the night late in the third quarter when he knocked the ball away from Pistons guard Mark Macon and scored while falling to the court. A laughing Morris missed the ensuing free throw, but the shot sparked a 10-4 spurt that gave New Jersey an 83-76 lead with 8:51 left in the game.
Hawks 107, 76ers 92
Steve Smith scored 15 of his 22 points while Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 32-13 in the third period, and Mookie Blaylock had 21 points and 16 assists for the visiting Hawks.
Smith led the third-quarter rally that saw the Hawks rally from a 53-44 deficit to a 76-62 lead.
Craig Ehlo scored 18 points and Andrew Lang tied his season high with 17 for the Hawks, who converted 43 of 82 shots (52.4 percent). It was only the seventh time this season that Atlanta shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Dana Barros had 26 points and Willie Burton 23 for the Sixers, who lost for the eighth time in 11 games.