By Matt Miller, for NBA.com
Posted Feb 27 2011 12:17AM
THE FACTS: The Houston Rockets' newest starter torched the New Jersey Nets.
Chase Budinger scored 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting in just three quarters of action to guide the Rockets to a 123-108 victory over New Jersey on Saturday at Toyota Center. Kevin Martin scored a game-high 30 points, while Luis Scola chipped in with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Houston (29-31) is 3-0 since the All-Star Break and has won four of five overall.
Brook Lopez scored 21 points and grabbed seven boards to lead the Nets (17-42), who have dropped five consecutive games and 15 of their last 16 on the road. Deron Williams added 15 points on 3-for-12 shooting, 17 assists and four turnovers in his second game with New Jersey.
QUOTABLE: "That's what I got to do: not just settle for jumpers, try to attack the basket and also get to the free-throw line. ... That can get me going from outside."
-- Budinger, who replaced Shane Battier in the starting lineup, on his aggressive offensive approach.
THE STAT: The Nets' last four opponents have shot a combined 136 free throws (34.0 per game). Houston finished Saturday's game 31-for-40 from the charity stripe.
TURNING POINT: New Jersey trimmed an 18-point deficit to 87-78 with five minutes left in the third period and could have climbed closer when Lopez drew an offensive foul for throwing an elbow while attempting to create separation in the post. The Rockets' energy level peaked soon after, and Houston concluded the third quarter on a 12-4 run to carry a 99-82 advantage into the fourth.
QUOTABLE II: "Sometimes it's just making one more pass. ... You've got to trust your teammates and keep the flow going. That's what makes us good."
-- Rockets coach Rick Adelman on Houston's offensive rhythm.
HOT: The trio of Budinger, Martin and Scola lit the nets on fire in the first half, combining for 45 points on 15-for-20 (75 percent) shooting.
GOOD MOVE: Adelman's decision to start Budinger in place of Battier, who was trade to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, paid dividends. In his first start of the season, the second-year forward from the University of Arizona hit three of four shots from behind the arc, got to the free-throw line nine times and snatched six rebounds.
NOT: Even a promotion to the starting five has not halted Nets guard Sasha Vujacic's shooting slump. Including Saturday's 3-for-13 shooting performance, Vujacic has averaged only 7.0 points on 25 percent (10-for-40) shooting over the last four games.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Williams posted his sixth consecutive double-double Saturday, which should please fantasy owners, but his poor shooting -- partially caused by a lingering strained tendon injury -- continued. Williams has made only eight of 25 shot attempts in two games with the Nets, but his inconsistent offensive production is something owners must live with until the injury is no longer a factor.
QUOTABLE III: "[My wrist] is sore, and it is going to continue, but I'll play through it. ... It doesn't need surgery; it's more of a sprain."
ROOKIE WATCH: New Jersey's Damion James scored nine points on 4-for-6 shooting, pulled down three rebounds and blocked two shots in 19-plus minutes of action. The rookie out of the University of Texas looked especially effective in the third quarter, when he displayed his strength and athleticism while playing with an attitude around the basket.
INSIDE THE ARENA: Kim Kardashian watched Saturday's game from a courtside seat located across the court from Houston's bench.
NOTABLE: Nets guard Jordan Farmar injured his left ankle but said after the game he will be "OK." ... The Nets have lost nine consecutive games to the Rockets... Houston's 71 first-half points set a season high in scoring for the Rockets and a season high in points allowed for New Jersey...Houston has scored at least 60 points in a half 23 times this season...The Rockets distributed a season-high 33 assists on 42 buckets...Houston improved to 8-0 when it shoots 50 percent or better from the field...The Rockets scored a season-high 29 fast-break points...Williams' 17 assists set the opponent record for most assists at Toyota Center...The Nets fell to 0-11 when playing on Saturday...New Jersey dropped to 2-13 on the second night of back-to-backs...The Nets are now 4-25 when allowing at least 100 points.
UP NEXT: For the Nets, Monday vs. Phoenix, Friday vs. Toronto in London (NBA TV), Saturday vs. Toronto in London (NBA TV). For the Rockets, Sunday @ New Orleans, Tuesday at Portland, Wednesday at L.A. Clippers (NBA TV).
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