AP (Allen, Paul "Do I own that?") -- Travis Outlaw's unconscious shooting off the bench gave the Portland Trail Blazers the big push they needed tonight to win their home opener 96-87 against the Houston Rockets.
Outlaw came into the game when Aldridge, the leading scorer to that point, had to sit with early foul trouble. With the separation Outlaw and newly acquired back-up veteran point guard Andre Miller provided in the second quarter, Portland built a lead it never relinquished in winning their home opener.
The depleted Houston Rockets showed heart in the road loss, clawing their way within six points in the fourth quarter. Outlaw's buoyed his leadership in heading the Blazers in the scoring column by opportunistic play on defense and two key rebounds late as Coach Nate McMillan kept Outlaw in the game down the stretch.
During the preseason, Portland area websites and local sports talk programs had been clogged with demands that the franchise rid itself of Outlaw. Perhaps seeking revenge for an ousting by the Rockets from last year's playoffs, "Trout" would not be denied.
Outlaw spoke with this reporter after the contest. "Travis, some folks out there questioned your ability to help this team win. Was this a statement game to set the record straight?"
"Nah. It ain't even like that. Portland fans are smart. B-Roy says they know I hit nine game winners for them last season. I keep winning games for them, Coach Nate says they gotta come round to me."
"Some question your role on this team. You have few starts in your years here in Portland. The lineup is clogged with wing players. You looked to be behind both Webster and Batum at small spot before his injury. Nate came out before the season and said you would be backing up Aldridge at power forward. But with your build you seem out of position there. Where do you see your yourself fitting with this team, at the three or the four?"
"Well, you know, I'm a scorer. I don't see myself as having so much a position except to come in and score. I guess, you know, I a sixth man type player."
Travis Outlaw is certainly a scorer. Going 9-14 from the field, hitting shots from everywhere on the floor, Outlaw led his team with 23 points in the victory. If the Blazers ever trade him, Portland fans can rest assured that young gun Portland GM Kevin Pritchard will demand someone very special in return.