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Rockets advance by beating Portland 92-76

RON Artest scored 27 points and Yao Ming had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Houston Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 92-76 to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1997.

Aaron Brooks scored 13 points and Shane Batter tied a career playoff-high with nine rebounds as the Rockets won for the first time in their last seven first-round series. They lost Game 6s the last two seasons, both to Utah.

Houston 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.

Bulls 128, Celtics 127 3OT

At Chicago, John Salmons scored 35 points, and Derrick Rose scored 28 points and blocked Rajon Rondo's potential game-winner as Chicago beat the defending champion Celtics in triple overtime to level the first-round series at 3-3.

Ray Allen scored a career playoff-high 51 points for the Celtics, but the series - which has had a record four games go a total of seven overtimes - will go back to Boston for Game 7 on Saturday.

Rondo penetrated and pulled up on the left block with 8 seconds left and turned, only to be rejected by Rose. The rookie of the year then missed two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining, before Rondo launched a harmless heave from beyond midcourt.

Allen finished three points shy of John Havlicek's club playoff record and tied the NBA playoff mark with nine 3-pointers.

Magic 114, 76ers 89

At Philadelphia, Orlando, playing without suspended star Dwight Howard and injured guard Courtney Lee, beat Philadelphia in Game 6 to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Howard, who was suspended for one game by the NBA for his elbow on Sixers center Samuel Dalembert in Game 5, will return when the Magic play the winner of the Boston-Chicago series.

Rashard Lewis scored 29 points and Rafer Alston had 21 to help the Magic win on the road for the second time this series. The Magic's decisive run came early when they made 12 of their first 19 shots.

Alston hit two 3-pointers during the Magic's fast start that put them up 15 and quickly negated the home crowd. J.J. Redick made all three 3-point attempts in the first half and ably filled in for Lee, who had surgery on his fractured sinus yesterday and could possibly be out two more weeks.

Andre Miller scored 24 points for the Sixers, who were eliminated in the first round for the second straight season.


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