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Wednesday March 14, 2012 11:04 PM

Rockets Roll Past Bobcats

Total team effort helps Houston thump Bobcats 107-87

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com




HOUSTON - All the ingredients for a letdown game where there.

Playing their fourth game in five days and coming off an emotionally exhausting win over Oklahoma City the night before, the Rockets certainly had plenty of reasons to deliver less than their best Wednesday. The NBA trade deadline, always an anxiety-filled day for players across the league, loomed less than 24 hours away. Kyle Lowry (bacterial infection) and Kevin Martin (shoulder) were out once again. Add to that the fact their opponent was none other than the worst-in-the-Association Charlotte Bobcats and it wouldn't have been surprising to see Houston stumble somewhat due to fatigue or merely a lack of motivation.

All those excuses and more were at the ready. And the Rockets used none of them, instead putting forth a superior performance that produced a professional thumping as Houston crushed the hapless Bobcats 107-87.

“After a big night last night it would have been easy for us to come out here and lay down and not play hard,” said Chandler Parsons, who stuffed the box score once more with 8 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. “I was real happy with the effort we put out tonight. Like I said, we could have just shut it down after beating the Thunder but we came out here and played tough, we played hard and we played for all 48 minutes. Tonight was big because if we lost it would have totally canceled out last night.”

The Rockets made sure there was little chance of that happening right from the start, setting the tone with a first quarter that saw them finish the frame with a 12-point bulge. And though Houston did suffer through a rather lackluster second period, any remaining drama surrounding the end result was emphatically extinguished with a third quarter that left no doubt about the Rockets’ intent to establish their superiority.

Houston laid down the hammer with a 36-17 period that saw them race over, around and through Charlotte’s feeble resistance. Luis Scola and Samuel Dalembert dominated the Bobcats’ interior defense, combining to hit 10 of their 12 shots while scoring 24 points and corralling 8 rebounds. Goran Dragic, meanwhile, once again orchestrated the Rockets’ attack with aplomb in Lowry’s absence, recording seven of his game-high 10 assists in the quarter. By the time the beat down and the period had drawn to a close, Houston owned a 29-point lead, leaving Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale with the rare luxury of being able to empty his bench after a nine-day stretch that had seen his club play three sets of back-to-backs.

“That was a really good third quarter for us,” said McHale. “It was high energy. Good to see the guys come out and respond like that. After a big win last night and spending a lot of time on the road, we had 26 assists last night and 27 tonight. If the ball keeps moving like that we play better.

“Goran’s really played well. He played well when Kyle was here, too; some of our best lineups were Goran and Kyle. He’s just a high octane type player. He likes to play fast, get up and down, and keep pace in the game. It’s fun to have him out there because you know there’s going to be some pace in the game.”

Indeed, Dragic has been a revelation of late, with Wednesday’s numbers pushing his averages to 16.5 points and 8.7 assists per game during his six starts this season; figures that look even more impressive when coupled with his .537 shooting mark from the field and .464 percentage from downtown. Dragic says he’s growing more comfortable in his new role every day and, judging from the Rockets’ vastly improved ball movement and offensive execution the past two games, it’s clear his teammates have grown much more comfortable with the way he’s running the show as well.

“(Playing as a starter) is much easier now,” he says. “Maybe the first couple games you’re a little bit nervous about how you’re going to lead the team and everything but now you can see that you can do that stuff. Our players are great and playing well and hopefully we’re going to keep winning.

“I’m feeling comfortable on the court. I know what I have to do and what is best for me. I just try to be solid on defense and am just trying to involve my teammates ... If everybody is dangerous it’s much easier.”

And 1s: Courtney Lee was forced from the game early in the fourth quarter after suffering an injury to his left hand; an affliction that was later determined to be a dislocated middle finger that also included a torn ligament. And though the injury might sound bad on the surface, Lee laughed if off post-game, saying it was not painful and that he did not expect to miss any time.

“It’s fine,” he said. “I just have to wear this little splint to keep it straight for six weeks. There’s no pain at all. When I did it I thought I had just jammed my finger. Then I looked down there and it was all over the place. (Rockets trainer Keith Jones) put it back in place. It’s just the ligament is torn. But there’s no pain. Just tape it up and ready to go. Kobe did it.”

QUOTES

KEVIN MCHALE

That was a really good third quarter for us. It was high energy. Good to see the guys come out and respond like that. After a big win last night and spending a lot of time on the road, we had 26 assists last night and 27 tonight. If the ball keeps moving like that we play better.

(on Goran): Goran’s really played well. He played well when Kyle was here, too; some of our best lineups were Goran and Kyle. He’s just a high octane type player. He likes to play fast, get up and down, and keep pace in the game. It’s fun to have him out there because you know there’s going to be some pace in the game. He’s just playing well. He’s pressuring the (opposing team’s) guard; his pick-up point is usually high. He plays with a lot of energy and he’s really fast with the ball.

(on Parsons): Chandler had six assists last night and seven tonight. His ability to move the ball, along with Goran, now you start to be able to get a large number of assists and a large number of easy baskets. We as a team really need to move the ball to get easy baskets. We’re not set up where you’re going to be able to just throw the ball to a guy and just say, ‘Go to work. Play one-on-one and beat your man.’ So we’ve got to it with ball movement and body moment and Chandler helps that a lot.

(On why the Rockets are playing well without the starters) “We just keep on talking about diversity and things happen and next guy has got to step up and play. A guy like Goran  (Dragic) all of a sudden is able to play a little bit more after he relaxes a little bit. Chase (Budinger) is getting a lot of minutes and you know guys start feeling a lot more comfortable. Chase did a hell of a job rebounding tonight and its nice to see Jordan (Hill) out there rebounding. You just got to go play it. Opportunity in our league is an amazing thing because sometimes it doesn't come for a long time until someone gets hurt. When it happens for you, you have to make the most of it.”

(On the 3rd quarter play) “Sammy (Dalembert) had a really good 3rd quarter. He was really active and we talked about the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter being really important, let' s extend this thing out and make sure we give ourselves a big, big cushion after the first 5 minutes and make them (Bobcats) feel like it's not their night, and we were able to do that.”

COURTNEY LEE

(on his injury to the middle finger on his left hand): It’s dislocated in two spots and a torn ligament.

(miss time?): No, it’s fine. I just have to wear this little splint to keep it straight for six weeks. There’s no pain at all. When I did it I thought I had just jammed my finger. Then I looked down there and it was all over the place. (Rockets trainer Keith Jones) put it back in place. It’s just the ligament is torn. But there’s no pain. Just tape it up and ready to go. Kobe did it (laughs).

(On not being sluggish from the back-to-back games last night) “It was big coming in from last night that game only built up momentum for us today. Coming out here today and getting this win on our home court is big. That's two games in a row, especially where we stand in the Western Conference in the 8th spot. I'm not sure where we are right now with this win. I don't know if any other teams won or lost today but it's big for us to continue to keep winning.”

LUIS SCOLA

(On the Rockets taking control of the game in the 3rd quarter) “We were really a little mad in the 2nd quarter because we kind of had the game, 20 (points) up, and most of the time when you are up 20 you have the game under control. We kind of let them (Bobcats) back into the game and it has happened in the past to us before where we would have a huge advantage and then we let it go and then we'd lose the game and we keep thinking about that game for weeks. So, we were really mad that we let them back into the game and we talked that we needed to go out there and play hard in the 3rd quarter. We needed a good 3rd quarter.”

(On the win) “We needed a win. We needed a good win. We had it yesterday and we needed to back it up today. We were playing well early and then they (Bobcats) came back. We came out in the 3rd quarter and we played well.”

CHANDLER PARSONS

(what a different 48 hours can make): It’s definitely positive. After a big night last night it would have been easy for us to come out here and lay down and not play hard. I was real happy with the effort we put out tonight. Like I said, we could have just shut it down after beating the Thunder but we came out here and played tough, we played hard and we played for all 48 minutes. Tonight was big because if we lost it would have totally canceled out last night.

(does it feel like you’ve tapped into something?): We’re just playing so unselfish. We’re moving the ball and we’re having fun. During that long road trip, for a stretch it wasn’t fun. We were playing selfish and we weren’t moving the ball or executing. So it’s been different because we’re having fun out there and it’s been great.

GORAN DRAGIC

(on the third quarter): we had some good defensive stops and just wanted to go as fast as possible in transition and score some easy layups. We started the game well and we set the tone from the first quarter.

(getting into a rhythm as a starter?): Of course. It’s much easier now. Maybe the first couple games you’re a little bit nervous about how you’re going to lead the team and everything but now you can see that you can do that stuff. Our players are great and playing well and hopefully we’re going to keep winning.

I’m feeling comfortable on the court. I know what I have to do and what is best for me. I just try to be solid on defense and am just trying to involve my teammates ... If everybody is dangerous it’s much easier.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS COACH PAUL SILAS

(On the game)  “We just didn’t have it, we just didn’t play tough enough. They really came at us and they had played last night and we didn’t play and Houston got 60 points in the paint. So that kind of shows you what we were about today and I just don’t want us to give up. We really have to work hard and keep playing because I didn’t think we played that hard tonight.”

(On the Bobcats) “I just told them that its not fair to themselves to Michael (Jordan), the organization, to us its just not fair just to go out and not really play hard to give up the kind of points in the paint, its just not right, I just told them I am not going to let them quit.”

KEMBA WALKER

(On the game) “They made plays and we didn’t, we didn’t really make shots and they capitalized on our mistakes. I thought we had great looks, we just didn’t make some of our shots and we made a few mistakes on defense and it hurt. Houston shot the ball really well and played with a lot of energy.”

COREY MAGETTE 

(On the key to the game)  “They made sixty points in the paint and you’re not going to win many games like that. We have to get better. We hate to lose and we know we have to keep working harder. All the young guys on this team have to work and get better the key to this league is longevity, guys have to have the mentality to keep working on their game at all times. Kemba Walker is getting better with every game he plays.”

BORIS DIAW

(On the team’s play)  “It was a tough game, we started good in the first half, but then we did not move the ball as well as they did. They killed us on rebounding and had too many points in the paint. We had the same number of shots, but our shots were too tough, and they were hitting all theirs.”

NOTES

The Rockets recorded their third 20-plus point victory of the season with a 107-87 win over the Bobcats tonight, which marked Houston’s seventh win in a row against Charlotte at Toyota Center.

Houston scored a season-high 60 points in the paint tonight (60-28 points in paint), surpassing a 54-point outing down low at Washington (1/16/12). The Rockets took a 46-30 edge off the glass tonight. The Rockets also won the battle of the boards (+14, 51-37) and in the paint (+10, 50-40) last year vs. Charlotte (3/16/11).

The Rockets scored a season-best 36 third-quarter points (season-high .789, 15-19 FG) tonight. The previous high was 34 points in the third vs. Washington (1/27/12).

Luis Scola finished with 23 points (8-15 FG) and four rebounds tonight. Scola now has 10 20-point outings in 2011-12.

Goran Dragic, who has started at point guard the last four games (3/10/12-3/14/12), had 14 points (6-11 FG) and 10 assists tonight. It stands as his third double-double of the season (ninth career).

Chandler Parsons notched eight points (4-6 FG), a season-high seven assists and six rebounds tonight. Parsons now has six or more assists in three of his last four games. He also registered a season-best 21 points (9-16 FG, 3-5 3FG), seven boards and six assists at Oklahoma City (3/13/12).

Samuel Dalembert posted 12 points (6-7 FG) and 10 boards tonight. Dalembert has now notched eight double-doubles in 2011-12 and a team-high 15 double-digit rebounding games.

Courtney Lee made another start tonight for Kevin Martin (strained right shoulder). The Rockets are a perfect 4-0 in his first four starts this season. Lee suffered a strained tendon in his left hand tonight.

Jordan Hill returned to the court after missing last night’s game at Oklahoma City (3/13/12) with the flu. Hill matched his season-high 14 points (6-11 FG) to go with eight boards.

Derrick Brown led the Bobcats with 15 points (6-10 FG) and a season-high four steals tonight.

D.J. Augustin, who had 22 points (7-16 FG, 7-7 FT) last year at Houston (3/16/11), finished with just nine points (4-7 FG) and three assists tonight.

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