Rockets Roll Over Cavs In A Romp
Kevin Martin scores season high 40 points to help lift Houston to 110-95 win
HOUSTON - The Rockets knew only one way to bounce back from one of their worst offensive games of the season.
By countering with one of their best.
Kevin Martin led Houston’s offensive onslaught by unleashing his entire arsenal against the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring a season high 40 points to help lift the Rockets to a 110-95 victory – Houston’s fifth straight home win.
Martin made his presence felt right from the start, raining in shots from all over the floor on his way to 22 first quarter points, then resumed his scoring spree in the second period on his way to a 32-point half – his personal season high and the third-most by a Rocket in a half in team history, trailing only Vernon Maxwell’s 37 and Sleepy Floyd’s 34 in the second half of games in 1991.
“It was just a nice rhythm,” said a nonchalant Martin after the game. “I was just trying to be aggressive. I got to the hole a few times and that’s when they start to back up and it opens up your outside shot, so I had them on a little string tonight.”
Indeed, Martin could do no wrong during his dazzling first half and even though he cooled off after the break, he still finished the night shooting 12-for-19 from the field, 3-of-6 from distance and 13-for-14 at the free throw line. The latter number is nothing new for the uber-efficient Martin, who entered Saturday’s contest ranking second in the NBA in free throws made per game, just barely behind league scoring leader Kevin Durant.
“It’s a skill,” said Shane Battier, marveling at Martin’s ability to get to the free throw line seemingly at will. “I don’t know how he does it but he’s a master.
“I thought Kevin did a fantastic job of scoring within the flow of the offense. We called a few more sets for him to let him go one-on-one but I thought it was one of those situations where you look up and you go, ‘Oh, he’s got 22 points!’ at the end of the first quarter because it came in the flow of the offense, and that’s how you want to accomplish that. We’ll take quiet 40 point games every day of the week.”
Though Houston’s offense was certainly the headliner Saturday night, it was the Rockets’ defense which allowed the club to run away and hide in the second half. Through the mid-way point of the third quarter, the Cavaliers had managed to stay within striking distance in large part thanks to Houston’s generosity on the defensive end as the Rockets allowed a bevy of wide-open looks and layups. But after a Mo Williams hoop cut Cleveland’s deficit to 4 points, the Rockets responded with a 17-4 run to close out the third quarter, effectively burying the Cavs’ hopes of snapping their 6-game losing streak. Houston limited Cleveland to just 2-of-12 shooting during that pivotal stretch as the Rockets clamped down defensively by dong a much better job preventing the Cavs’ waterbug guards from wreaking havoc in the paint.
“We flew around better,” said Battier when asked about the difference between his club’s defensive effort from the first half to the second. “Our energy level and concentration picked up. They put you in some unique situations where if you’re not sharp mentally you give up layups and 3s. I thought we did a better job on dribble penetration than we did in the first half.
“At the end of the day you have to man up and keep them out of the middle, and we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half and in the second half we did.”
Saturday’s contest also featured a solid showing from Chase Budinger, who was in desperate need of a strong shooting night in order to help break out of his season-long slump. Budinger knocked down 6 of his first 7 shots from the floor, three of them from beyond the arc, on his way to finishing with 16 points in 23 minutes of play.
“It always feels good when you hit your first few shots,” said the second-year University of Arizona product. “It gives you confidence. I just need to get that confidence back in myself. I just went out there tonight and took what the defense gave to me.
“Hopefully this is a progression going into the next game and I can keep playing well on the offensive end and keep getting better on the defensive end.”
I was really pleased with out effort at the start of the game after the back to back last night. And in the second half I thought we defended them a lot better than we did in the first half. We gave up too much penetration in the first half – in the second half we did a better job. But the energy level was there after a disappointing loss.
(on Kevin’s big night): I thought the one thing he did tonight was he came out at the very beginning and was very aggressive. He made 3s and he got fouls, and when he passed the ball early in the game, he made 2 or 3 hard cuts – when Brad (Miller) came in he got him a layup – but that’s something he’s just got to continue to do. When he passes, he’s got to make a hard cut because he’s so quick. That gives him the opportunity to get open. But he was on first that first half, he made everything.
One thing that keeps him going, too, is that he gets to the line. He got 10 free throws in the first half. He really got us going.
It was just a nice rhythm. I was just trying to be aggressive. I got to the hole a few times and that’s when they start to back up and it opens up your outside shot, so I had them on a little string tonight.
(On scoring 40 points) “Tonight at the end of the first quarter, when I looked up there, I just had it going. Kyle (Lowry) was doing a good job keeping it going and calling plays so I credited him a little bit too.”
(On the importance of the win) “It was just a good team effort tonight. We let one slip away last night so we decided to come here tonight and get one that we felt we should have had. It was very important and tough. We were 8-14 going into the game so we have no excuses right now. The veterans did a good job of making sure everyone was on board and not letting this game slip away since they (Cavaliers) are on a six game losing streak. They (Cavaliers) had a team meeting and they were going to be ready to come in and play.”
(on improved defense in second half): We flew around better. Our energy level and concentration picked up. They put you in some unique situations where if you’re not sharp mentally you give up layups and 3s. I thought we did a better job on dribble penetration than we did in the first half.
At the end of the day you have to man up and keep them out of the middle, and we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half and in the second half we did.
(on the strong offensive showing): That’s been our strength to this point. We’re not the greatest defensive team but we’ve been able to put points on the board and we have to be a solid offensive team every single night.
(on Kevin scoring within the flow of the offense): I don’t think we really deviated from the game plan. I thought Kevin did a fantastic job of scoring within the flow of the offense. We called a few more sets for him to let him go one-on-one but I thought it was one of those situations where you look up and you go, ‘Oh, he’s got 22 points!’ at the end of the first quarter because it came in the flow of the offense, and that’s how you want to accomplish that. We’ll take quiet 40 point games every day of the week.
(on Kevin’s ability to get to the line): It’s a skill. I don’t know how he does it but he’s a master.
(On the win) “ Cleveland wanted to push the ball and it took us a little while to get into it but once we got settled defensively we went from there. It was a nice win.”
(On the Rockets play) “Early on in the season it was a little bit of a helter-skelter brand basketball. We just didn’t look comfortable. I think now we are more comfortable with our roles and it’s unfortunate that we had the start that we did but we feel that we can still make a push here if we win a few games here in December.”
(On his shooting tonight) “It always feels good when you hit your first few shots. It gives you confidence. I just need to get that confidence back in myself. I just went out there tonight and took what the defense gave to me.”
“Hopefully this is progression going into the next game and I can keep playing well on the offensive end and keep getting better on the defensive end.”
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS QUOTES
COACH BYRON SCOTT
(On the game) “This is the second game our guys have competed hard. They battled and battled hard all game. We really need to get our bench going. We have to run them off the three point line. Battier made some great threes. Our guys feel vulnerable but we have to do it. Three point shooting was the key.”
(On Kevin Martin) “Kevin really got it going in the first half. We defended him better in the second half. A guy like that can really get it going when he gets in a run like that. Kevin got it going against Manny (Harris). He really had it going pretty good.”
(On the game) “We did a good job of fighting back but we didn't play smart enough, either defensively or we were taking bad shots. Martin controlled the game offensively for Houston. We couldn't get stops defensively. We scrambled all game but we couldn't get stops when we needed them.”
(On the Rockets) “ Houston made some really tough shots. Shot after shot they were hitting and moving the ball around to the open guy.”
(On the game) “ Houston made a lot of shots. Martin had a great game and he kept them in it early when we tried to make runs.”
(On the team's recent problems) “It's hard to know why. When things go wrong, they go wrong. We want to win badly. We need to keep working hard to get better.”
(On the key to the game) “Three point shooting had a lot to do with the outcome. Houston shot the ball extremely well. Kevin Martin had a good game and really got it going in the first half. I like the way he plays the game a lot.”
The Rockets registered a 110-95 win over Cleveland, extending Houston’s home winning streak over the Cavaliers to five straight games. Overall, Houston has captured its last five outings at Toyota Center.
Houston took the battle of the boards by a 48-33 (+15) count tonight. It was the second time the Rockets have outrebounded an opponent by a double-figure margin this season.
The Rockets were 12-of-26 (.462) from downtown tonight, which marked the fifth time the Rockets have reached double digits from beyond the arc this season. Houston holds a perfect 5-0 mark this season when hitting 10 or more 3-pointers in a game.
Cleveland turned the ball over just nine times tonight, which was one off their season-low eight giveaways vs. Philadelphia (11/16/10).
Kevin Martin finished with a season-high 40 points (12-19 FG, 3-6 3FG, 13-14 FT) tonight, tallying 40-plus points for the seventh time in his career and his first with the Rockets.
Kevin Martin opened tonight’s game with a 32-point first half (10-12 FG, 3-4 3FG, 9-10 FT), which matched the third-highest half in team history: 37 (2nd) by Vernon Maxwell on 1/26/91 vs. Cleveland, 34 (2nd) by Sleepy Floyd on 2/26/91 at Denver and 32 (1st) by Calvin Murphy on 3/18/78 vs. New Jersey. The last 30-point half by a Rockets player was an even 30 (2nd) by Tracy McGrady on 11/12/05 at New Jersey.
Kevin Martin got things going with a 22-point first quarter (8-10 FG, 3-4 3FG, 3-3 FT), tying for the third most in a quarter in club annals: 30 (4th) by Vernon Maxwell on 1/26/91 vs. Cleveland, 23 (4th) by Yao Ming on 12/9/06 at Washington, 22 (3rd) by Sleepy Floyd on 2/26/91 at Denver, 22 (2nd) by Hakeem Olajuwon on 4/10/93 vs. San Antonio and 22 (2nd) by Tracy McGrady on 3/28/05 at Utah.
Shane Battier had 16 points (5-11 FG, 4-9 3FG) tonight. Battier has now gone a combined 15-of-28 (.536) from 3-point range over Houston’s current five-game home winning streak.
Luis Scola posted 14 points (6-13 FG, 2-2 FT) and 14 rebounds tonight. Scola has now reached double-figure scoring in a career-best 19 consecutive games (11/6/10-12/11/10), surpassing his previous high of 18 straight contests (12/29/09-2/5/10) of double-digit points.
Brad Miller pulled down a season-high 10 rebounds tonight, surpassing his nine boards at the L.A. Lakers (10/26/10).
Chase Budinger picked up his sixth double-figure scoring game of the season with 16 points (6-10 FG, 3-6 3FG) and five rebounds.
Antawn Jamison recorded a season-high 24 points (9-15 FG, 3-3 3FG, 3-3 F) and five rebounds tonight. Jamison has now notched at least 20 points in three of the last four outings.
Mo Williams had 18 points (6-13 FG, 5-6 FT) and a game-high nine assists tonight. Williams came up one assist shy of his fourth double-double of the season.
Jawad Williams matched his season high with 13 points (6-8 FG) off the bench tonight for Cleveland.