The horror show is over.
The Portland Trail Blazers broke an embarrassing 11-game losing streak with their 76-75 victory over the Houston Rockets at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night.
For a team that has so often lately looked like the NBA’s definition of chaos, the Blazers used teamwork and aggressive defense to hold off the Rockets. Portland held Houston 15 points below its normal scoring average and forced the Rockets into 17 turnovers.
The Blazers went up by one on an eight-foot pull-up jumper from Sebastian Telfair with less than 30 seconds to go in the game. Portland was then able to clamp down on the defensive end. When Yao Ming’s last-second shot failed to find the bottom of the net, Blazers fans erupted, turning the Garden into a scene reminiscent of the final game of the NBA Finals.
The win was much needed in the eyes of Blazers head coach Nate McMillan.
“It’s definitely nice to get a ‘W’,” McMillan said, smiling. “All those records that you guys [writers] have been talking about, we can put those to rest.”
The key to the Blazers’ victory was the team’s ability to hold Ming to only 13 points and seven rebounds. Ming, who has been on fire offensively ever since the All-Star break, often looked overmatched by Portland’s center-tandem of Theo Ratliff and Joel Pryzbilla.
“We did a good job of preventing him from getting easy looks at the basket,” Pryzbilla said.
With only eight games remaining in the season, and Portland’s record now at 21-53, McMillan is looking for more of the same as the Blazers begin to focus on “next year.”
“We had nice efforts by a number of guys tonight: Sebastian, Voshon, Theo,” McMillan said. “Tonight we got good effort from both our first and second teams, and that’s what we’ve been lacking lately.”