by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Terrence Jones (left) of the Houston Rockets and Mo Williams of the Trail Blazers wind up with technical fouls after a run-in during Game 4 of the teams' NBA playoff series Sunday night at Moda Center.Houston forward Terrence Jones had the opportunity to stay at his mother’s house last weekend, when the Rockets were in Portland for Games 3 and 4 of their first-round series against the Trail Blazers.

The former Jefferson High star, who led the Demos to three consecutive Oregon School Activities Association Class 5A championships, loves his mother, but he flatly rejected the familiar surroundings.

"I’m a winner, and I’m here to take care of business. I stayed with the team,” Jones said Sunday.

Houston got half of the job done. The Rockets won Game 3 on Friday, but they lost 123-120 in overtime Sunday night in Game 4 and fell behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

In the losing effort, Jones came off the bench to play 22 minutes. He scored eight points, hitting 3 of 6 shots, and went 2 of 4 from the free-throw line. Jones had six rebounds and one assist.

He also brought some intensity to the game. In the second half, he got tangled up with Portland backup guard Mo Williams, and each was called for a technical foul.

“I felt I contributed,” Jones said. “But we came up short. I was very disappointed. We fought, but we had a couple of breakdowns at the end of the game.”

Jones, who said he has given away “a lot of tickets” to the two games at Moda Center, has loved the opportunity to play in Portland in front of family and friends, though.

“I’ve got so many family and supporters here who have been supporting me throughout this whole season and throughout my whole life,” Jones said. “It’s great and important to have everyone there.”

In his second NBA season, Jones is trying to soak up the playoff atmosphere.

“It’s been really fun,” he said. “It’s an exciting time. It’s my first time in the playoffs, and this has been an electric game, every game. All of them have been really close.”

Jones started the first two games of the series at power forward. In Game 1, Jones played 30 minutes. He was 6 of 10 from the field and finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. In Game 2, Jones went 26 minutes, scoring 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and one assist.

Mostly because Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 46 and 43 points in the first two games, Rockets coach Kevin McHale had Jones coming off the bench in Games 3 and 4, with Omer Asik starting at power forward.

In Game 3, Jones looked completely out of rhythm. In 13 minutes, he missed all three of his shots, scored no points, collected two rebounds and had one assist.

“It’s different,” Jones said, of coming off the bench. “I’ve been starting for so many games, I got used to it. It’s a different feeling (to come off the bench), and it’s a different way to warm up, it’s a different way to get ready for a game. It took me a game to get used to.”

While Jones would like to be starting, especially in front of everyone he knows in Portland, he understands that these are the playoffs and the team has to come first.

“I want to be a winner first and a team player first,” Jones said. “If anything gives my team more of an advantage to win, I’m with that 100 percent.”

With the Rockets facing elimination in Game 5 Wednesday at Houston, Jones said that he and his team have to be ready to fight and scrap to keep their season alive.

“I’m just trying to make sure we move on to the second round,” Jones TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Terrence Jones (right) tries to get some defensive leverage against his power forward counterpart, LaMarcus Aldridge.

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