Rockets finish off Blazers, reach second round

BY foxsports • May 1, 2009

The Houston Rockets finally advanced in the NBA playoffs.

Ron Artest scored 27 points, Yao Ming had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Houston reached the second round for the first time since 1997, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 92-76 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

The Rockets drafted Yao with the top overall pick in 2002, and he's played on three of the teams that lost in the opening round. He broke his foot late last season and watched from the bench as the Rockets lost again.

He embraced teammates with a wide grin moments after this one ended, savoring every moment after his seven-year wait.

"It's a big step for me," he said. "Even when the clock was running down, I'm still not believing that it's coming true. Obviously now that we know that feeling, we've got to keep moving forward."

Aaron Brooks scored 13 points and Shane Battier tied a career playoff-high with nine rebounds as the Rockets won for the first time in their last seven first-round series.

Houston, which lost Tracy McGrady to season-ending knee surgery in February, put this one away with a big second quarter and moves on to play the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night at the Staples Center. The Lakers won all four meetings in the regular season.

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