PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Brandon Roy was so sick he could barely make it through shootaround.
"I felt pretty lousy," he said.
Luckily for the Portland Trail Blazers, their All-Star guard didn't play that way.
Roy had an IV before Game 5, then went out and scored 25 points to help the Trail Blazers stave off elimination with an 88-77 victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. LaMarcus Aldridge also had 25.
The Rockets, who have not advanced out of the first round of the playoffs in six tries since 1997, hold a 3-2 advantage in the series going into Thursday night's game back in Houston.
Roy, a two-time All-Star, missed practice on Monday because of flu-like symptoms, while Aldridge didn't practice because of a sore right elbow. Both started Tuesday night.
"I've been involved in games when I didn't feel well and played well. Some nights when guys come in under the weather they play their best games. And Brandon had one of those best games tonight," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "He came out, took an IV before the game, and played like a champion."
Luis Scola led the Rockets with 21 points. Yao Ming had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Houston trailed until the fourth quarter, when Yao and Von Wafer hit consecutive jumpers to put the Rockets ahead 68-64. The Blazers tied it at 68, then Greg Oden had another two free throws to give the Blazers back the lead.
Travis Outlaw and Roy padded it with a pair of 3-pointers to make it 77-68 with 5:21 to go. After Roy added a running jumper, the Rose Garden fans were on their feet, with one fan raising a sign that read "Bring down the Rockets!"
Aaron Brooks hit a running jumper to close the Rockets to 80-75, but it was as close as Houston would come.
"Obviously, our worst game of the series," Yao said. "Hopefully, next game, execution will result in our best game."
Portland went on a 17-4 run in the first quarter, taking a 23-13 lead on Aldridge's 18-footer. But Houston's Scola hit seven of nine shots from the floor and ended the quarter with 15 points, and the Rockets cut the deficit to 29-26 to start the second quarter.
The Blazers built a 46-36 lead late in the first half, but the Rockets closed within 48-43 on Yao's dunk. Roy finished out the half with a driving layup to give Portland a 50-43 lead.
Aldridge handed off to Joel Przybilla for a dunk to put the Blazers ahead 56-45. Houston answered with a 12-2 run, capped by Yao's jumper, to close to within 58-57.
Brooks' pull-up 3-pointer tied it at 60 and Houston finally pulled ahead on Yao's turnaround jumper that made it 66-64 early in fourth.
Roy said he finally found the "bounce" to his step in the fourth quarter. He had nine points in the first half, when the Blazers turned to Aldridge, who had 15.
"I think they noticed I wasn't feeling well, so I think they took it into their own hands," Roy said about his teammates.
The Blazers had not been to the playoffs since 2003. Portland surprisingly clinched the Western Conference's fourth seed and home-court advantage.
The Rockets won the opener at the Rose Garden, but dropped Game 2 before returning to Houston for the next two games, both victories.
The Blazers kept it close in Game 4, but made crucial mistakes in the final two minutes for an 89-88 Rockets' win. Yao had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Yao got off to a slow start back in Portland — he didn't even attempt a shot in the first quarter.
"I felt good when we were ahead four points," Yao said. "But we fouled too much too early in the fourth quarter and it left us in a bad situation in the penalty. Foul trouble killed us."
The Rockets went to the free-throw line just 10 times in the game and made eight attempts. But coach Rick Adelman, earlier in the day fined $25,000 for criticizing the officiating during the playoffs, kept his silence.
Portland made 16 of 23 free-throw attempts.
Notes:@ McMillan also was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for comments made about officiating during the playoff series. Asked for his reaction, McMillan said: "My mother's gone but she gave me great advice as a player: 'Shut your mouth and do your job.'" Adelman said he had no comment. Boston coach Doc Rivers also was fined over comments about officials during the playoffs. ... McMillan tinkered with his lineup a bit in the second half, starting rookie Rudy Fernandez rather than rookie Nicolas Batum.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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