Blazers hold off red-hot Martin in win
The Portland Trail Blazers were determined not to drop a second straight close game on Wednesday after a three-point loss to Dallas a night earlier.
The loss spoiled a sensational performance by Kevin Martin, who finished with a season-high 45 points for Houston.
''It comes down to making plays,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. ''Last night, we didn't do that and didn't get stops. Tonight, we did.''
Rudy Fernandez gave Portland the lead with less than a minute remaining. Martin missed a shot on the other end and Aldridge grabbed the rebound and extended the lead with his bucket a few seconds later.
Luis Scola missed a shot for Houston and Aldridge was fouled on the rebound.
Aldridge hit two free throws with 5 seconds remaining before Kyle Lowry made a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left to cut the lead to 102-100.
The Trail Blazers, who are one spot ahead of the Rockets in the Western Conference standings, own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Houston with the win.
''It's big for us,'' Aldridge said. ''We didn't really want to talk about the tiebreaker because you don't want to put too much pressure on it, but everybody knew that if it comes down to it with them, we should be good.''
The Rockets were without point guard Aaron Brooks, who missed the game after re-injuring the left ankle that kept him out 21 games earlier this season on Monday in a loss to Denver.
The Rockets led 85-76 when Martin took a breather with about 10 minutes remaining. Portland took advantage of his absence to go on a 13-4 run capped by four points by Aldridge to tie it at 89 about 4 minutes later.
The Trail Blazers took their first lead of the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by Patrick Mills that made it 92-91 with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
''We just didn't come out and play in the first half like we needed to play,'' Houston coach Rick Adelman said. ''We had a bad 4-minute stretch in the fourth quarter that cost us. It's a tough loss.''
Martin bounced back from a difficult two-game road trip on which he had just 23 points on 9-of-32 shooting. On Wednesday, he went 13 of 18 from the floor, made 13 of 15 free throw attempts and hit a season-high six 3-pointers.
He couldn't be happy about his big game, though.
''That was a very bad loss for us,'' he said. ''Anything between that is meaningless details.''
Martin's 19 points in the third quarter equaled the total scored by the Trail Blazers.
Marcus Camby said dealing with Martin was difficult.
''It's nothing new if you're an NBA buff,'' Camby said. ''That's what he does is score points in the bunch. He has an uncanny knack of getting to the free throw line and drawing contact. He's one of the best scorers we have in this league.''
Mills matched his career high with 14 points for Portland and Fernandez finished with 12 points and five assists.
Notes: The Trail Blazers were short-handed, too, playing without Brandon Roy, who is out indefinitely with a left knee injury. ... Miller had 11 points and leads the Trail Blazers in double-figure scoring performances this season with 20. ... Martin's 45 points set a record for a Rockets player at the Toyota Center, eclipsing the 44 Tracy McGrady scored in 2007 against Utah and the 44 Scola had last year against New Jersey.