The day started Tuesday morning inside the Trail Blazers' shootaround with coach Nate McMillan showing his seldom seen, lighthearted side.

The coach emerged from the sliding-glass door separating his office from the practice court wearing, of all things, a headband.

You know, the very thing he abhors and banned Blazers players from wearing.

He wore it as gesture to newly acquired Gerald Wallace, who out of respect for his new coach, abstained from wearing a headband Sunday in his Blazers debut.

McMillan took off his headband and tossed it to Wallace. The message was clear: From now on, Wallace had the coach's blessing to wear it, which Wallace did Tuesday night.

Incidentally, the Blazers players got quite the chuckle out of McMillan's charade.

Which brings us back to the end of the day, at a solemn Rose Garden.

The Blazers were blown out for the second consecutive game at home. This time it was 103-87 to surging Houston, and believe it or not, this one was even more thorough than the beat down administered by Atlanta.

Those happy-go-lucky Blazers who give it all on the court and joke about it afterward are suddenly nowhere to be found.

There is no flow. No rhythm. No sense of team.

Where, oh where, did those pre-Wallace trade Blazers go?

"That's the million-dollar question," Wesley Matthews said afterward. "But I don't have the answer. Sorry. I wish I had more for you."

Afterward, McMillan lamented that the Blazers no longer appeared to be having fun. He wondered where the "spirit" and "swagger" that had come to define this entertaining group had gone.