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Sunday March 6, 2011 0:11 AM

Rockets Pound Pacers

Houston dominates from start to finish, crushes Indiana 112-95

West Medlin
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - Better late than never.

64 games into the season and the Rockets finally appear to be playing their best basketball of the year. Houston proved as much in their 112-95 shellacking of the Indiana Pacers Saturday night.

“It was a good solid win for our guys. They came out with a lot of energy from the very start and they continued on right on through it,” Coach Adelman said. “I'm very happy with the effort we had.”

The Rockets set the tone early claiming an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter and never let up the rest of the game. With 6:40 left in the second, Houston’s lead had already ballooned to 23.

One of the most impressive parts of the team’s performance was their ability to sustain solid effort at both ends of the court for the entire game. There were no significant lulls that allowed the Pacers to regain ground and threaten the Rockets’ lead.

“I think we’re just playing with a sense of urgency,” Kyle Lowry said. “I think guys understand that we have to win games if we’re going to try and make a push for the playoffs.”

While Kevin Martin led the team with 20 points, the Rockets didn’t rely on just one player to carry the offensive load. Good ball movement and collective focus resulted in 6 Houston players scoring in double digits, and another (Patrick Patterson) finishing with 9 points.

“I think we are (playing our best basketball of the season),” Courtney Lee said. “We’re playing together. We’re having fun. We’re being fast on the offensive end; and on the defensive end we’re helping each other out. That makes up for a lot of our size that we don’t have down low, so once we continue to do that then we are playing our best basketball.”

Houston played with a marked defensive intensity and managed to force 20 Pacer turnovers while limiting them to shooting just 41.3% from the floor. Defensive stops and defensive rebounds allowed the Rockets to push the ball in the open court for quick, easy baskets.

Goran Dragic particularly enjoyed this style of play and again flashed his speed and ability to push the ball en route to 12 points and 5 assists in 19 minutes of play.

“I like to play fast especially with the last two years being in Phoenix,” he said. “They like to play run and gun but Houston plays similar. I don't think I'm going to have a problem with that.”

The team currently sits 11th in the Western Conference and 2 ½ games behind the 8th-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. As the battle of playoff seeding intensifies, Houston understands the importance of taking it one game at a time.

“We can’t control what other teams do. We got to control what we do and all we can do is win games,” said Lowry.

And that’s exactly what they have been doing, as the Rockets are suddenly doing their best Charlie Sheen impression: winning. Saturday’s victory makes Houston 6-1 in their last 7 games and back at .500 for the year. In what’s been an up-and-down season, Red might be Rising at just the right time.

QUOTES

RICK ADELMAN

(On the game) “It was a good solid win for our guys. They came out with a lot of energy from the very start and they continued on right on through it. I'm very happy with the effort we had. It's a big game for us being at home against a team that's fighting for the playoffs too. Now we got to go on the road for two more before we come home so let's see if we can build on this.

(On the Pacers) “We wanted to make them a half court team because they are one of the best transition teams for 3's or for attacking the basket. If we keep them at half court, we thought we would do alright. It's really important to set the tone. That team can score a lot of points in a hurry. I kept telling them (Rockets) that the whole game. I remember once they (Pacers) came back we (Rockets) had them down big and they came back and took the game away from us in the 4th quarter so we wanted to keep pushing. Setting the tone at the start of the game was really important.”

GORAN DRAGIC

(On his style of play) “I like to play fast especially with the last two years being in Phoenix. They like to play run and gun but Houston plays similar. I don't think I'm going to have a problem with that.”

(On the chemistry with Courtney Lee and Patrick Patterson) “We did not have a lot of practice. I practiced with them only once and that was yesterday. Like I said, I need some time to know all the plays and then we can find that chemistry and it is going to be much easier. But you know Patrick, he is big and he is fast so I told him just when you set the screen just go to the basket and I'm going to find you. He did that and he made some easy baskets.”

KEVIN MARTIN

(On the keys to the win) “Our percentage wasn't the best but we were out working them and getting extra opportunities. We were attacking the basket.”

(On the Rockets trying to make Indiana a half court offensive team) “We had to get back in transition and also we had to stop them from getting isolations in the post and that's what we did tonight. Chase (Budinger) played good defense on (Danny) Granger and Chuck (Hayes) did good defense on Roy (Hibbert). We got a big win.”

KYLE LOWRY

(On the Pacers) “That team came off of a tough loss in Dallas on a back-to-back and the way they play, they play very high energy and up tempo, so we had to put the up-temponess on them from our perspective.”

(On the importance of the win) “It was important. It was a bounce back win and it gives us confidence to get our swagger back.”

COURTNEY LEE

(On the importance of the win) “It feels good to come back and bounce back after a tough loss in L.A. and we came out today, we executed. We got out and ran and we got stops on the defensive end and so it feels good to get this win.”

(On preparing for the next home game on Saturday) “We're going to continue pushing and build on the success we had tonight. We're going to get back in the gym and practice and make sure that we are mentally sharp for our next games coming up.

INDIANA PACERS QUOTES

COACH FRANK VOGEL

(On his team’s recent play) “We understand with back to back games we have to come ready to play and tonight we laid an egg and have to do better as a team. I haven’t done a good enough job as coach and the players haven’t either. We have to keep working. We are all frustrated as a team. It was all about execution and we didn’t get the job done.”

(On the Rockets and their offense) “Rick Adelman is one of the best offensive coaches in the NBA. His teams are very tough to guard. You have to give credit to him and his teams.”

DANNY GRANGER

(On the game) “They jumped on us early and we never recovered. We need to come out with more energy. We played like a tired team and we need to turn things around.”

(On the team’s recent play) “It’s been tough. We’ve been playing against a lot of teams lately that have been playing very well. We have to put out more effort.”

ROY HIBBERT

(On Chuck Hayes) “Defensively he did a good job against me. I always have a tough time with undersized centers. He is a very tough guy inside.”

TYLER HANSBROUGH

(On the game) “We have to put this game behind us and stay focused as a team. I’d rather win the game but I will learn from the mistakes we’re making.”

(On the Rockets play) “I’m very familiar with their offense. They were hitting a lot of shots and penetrating to the basket. It seemed like it was their game and not ours.”

NOTES

Houston captured a 112-95 triumph over Indiana tonight, snapping a two-game home losing streak to the Pacers while sweeping the season series (2-0).

Rockets never trailed in tonight’s contest, which marked Houston’s fourth wire-to-wire win this season. Houston had a total of two such victories all of last season.

Houston registered 65 first-half points (25-49 FG, 10-11 FT). The Rockets has now hit the 60-point mark in a half 24 times in 2010-11.

The Rockets blocked 11 shots tonight, which marked the fourth time this season Houston has reached double digits in blocks (Rockets record: 4-0): 12 on 12/17/10 vs. Memphis, 11 on 12/19/10 at Sacramento and 10 on 12/31/10 vs. Toronto.

Houston also forced 20 turnovers tonight. It was the third time this season that the Rockets have forced an opponent into 20 or more turnovers (Rockets record: 2-1): 20 vs. Chicago (11/16/10) and 21 at Denver (2/7/11).

Kevin Martin had 20 points (8-17 FG) and five rebounds tonight. Houston now holds a 26-17 mark this season when Martin scores at least 20 points.

Kyle Lowry recorded 18 points (5-9 FG, 3-6 3FG, 5-6 FT) and six assists tonight. Lowry has now netted 10 or more points in each of the last five games (2/26/11-3/5/11), matching his season best of five consecutive outings of double-figure scoring (12/14/10-12/20/10).

Chase Budinger added 18 points (7-15 FG) and six rebounds tonight, marking his 26th double-figure scoring performance on the season.

Chuck Hayes pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds tonight. He has now reached double-digit rebounding totals in five of the last six games (2/23/11-3/5/11).
Courtney Lee scored 13 points (5-11 FG) and blocked two shots tonight. Lee is now 23-of-44 (.523) from the field over the last five games (2/23/11-3/5/11).

Tyler Hansbrough posted a team-high 17 points (8-18 FG) and 10 rebounds tonight. He has now scored 10-plus points in season-high five straight games.

Danny Granger finished with 16 points (4-13 FG), four boards and three assists tonight. Granger, who was 8-of-8 from the line, has now hit 40 free throws in a row. The longest free throw streak in the NBA this season currently stands at 48 straight makes by Phoenix’s Steve Nash (12/15/10-1/12/11).

Roy Hibbert added 15 points (6-14 FG), six rebounds and three blocked shots tonight. Hibbert also chipped in with 18 points (8-14 FG), eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the first meeting at Indiana (11/12/10).

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