Rockets Set Franchise Mark In Win Over Spurs
Martin, Brooks and Scola each net 30-plus points to lead Houston to 109-104 victory
Rockets.com Staff Writer
Houston - The Rockets had spent much of the past few days searching for their new identity and attempting to discover a winning formula in the wake of last week’s blockbuster trade which shook up the team’s roster.
And while they might not have fully fleshed out either one of those things Friday night, they certainly were in no mood to quibble with the end result after having simultaneously vanquished the San Antonio Spurs and their three-game losing streak all in one evening.
In fact, Houston’s 109-104 win arrived amid the most unique of circumstances: with three different players – Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola – scoring at least 30 points in a game for the first time in franchise history.
Suffice to say, that singular sort of offensive explosion can’t be counted on regularly, but the timing couldn’t have been better as the Rockets recorded a much-needed win over a division rival, allowing them to gain ground on both the Spurs and Blazers (who also lost Friday night), the two teams currently occupying the 7 and 8 seeds in the Western Conference playoff race.
“I thought Kevin and Aaron and Luis did a great job,” said Shane Battier. “This is sort of what we've been waiting for the last three games really. We ran the offense the way it’s designed to be run with back doors and lay-ups and screens for each other and great ball movement. Kevin is a smart player and he is really going to help our offense and our offensive creativity.”
Struggling with his shooting touch since arriving in Houston, Martin made a concerted effort to attack the basket Friday night and that aggressive mindset enabled him to get on track by doing what he does best: draw fouls and get to the free throw line. Both Martin and Scola tied the franchise record for most freebies made (14) in a game without a miss, sparking the team to a blistering 34-of-38 (.895) night from the line.
“Against Orlando in the first half I was settling for too many jumpers and that’s not my game,” said Martin. “My game is to get to the hole and that’s when my outside shot starts falling. I did that in the second half against Orlando and I just wanted to do the same thing tonight.”
After the game, Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman said he had no doubt Martin’s big night went a long way in relieving some of the pressure the 6th year guard had been placing upon himself after struggling with his shot during his first three games as a Rocket.
“I’m sure he feels a lot better. There’s so many things we can do with Kevin that we haven’t even addressed yet. Guys need to understand he’s a unique player and when he gets the ball you don’t need to run over there and play pick-and-roll with him because all you’re going to do is draw two guys to him. Very few people can keep him in front of them, so we’ve got to just get used to him and keep building on that.”
Martin wasn’t the only Rockets player feeling relief following Friday’s big win. Scola admitted that he, too, felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. Coming off perhaps his worst game of the season Wednesday night against Orlando, Scola bounced back in a big way, setting the tone right from the outset with a bevy of points and his usual brilliant work on the boards. He was also the unquestioned ringleader of the Rockets’ scintillating first quarter effort which saw Houston race to a 17-point lead – an advantage the Rockets would never relinquish.
“It was a big relief,” said Scola. “Two nights ago was a really rough night for me. It was a nightmare. Games like that happen and I kind of punished myself because it shouldn’t happen but it did and I couldn’t wait for this day to come. That day and a half was like a week for me.”
Now Scola and the rest of the Rockets can take a deep breath and relax, though only briefly. Saturday night brings an even bigger challenge, as Houston travels to face Utah in Salt Lake City. Houston’s players will have to dig deep since four of the team’s five starters logged more than 41 minutes of playing time Friday – an indication of just how important it was for the Rockets to come away with a win. But their trip will no doubt be made at least somewhat easier knowing that, while their new identity and formula for winning remain a work in progress, the team managed to take an initial and impressive first step toward discovery Friday night.
I’m pleased with the win. The way we came out and played in the first two and a half quarters was terrific. I was disappointed in the way we finished the game. We just have to do a better job with mental mistakes again in the fourth quarter. Give their guys credit, they attacked us and got to the rim. Fortunately we made our free throws.
(Scola): He played very well. He was very active. He made the first few shots and kept it going and got to the line. Getting to the line was crucial; he and Kevin both shot 14 free throws and both of them made all of them. I’m really glad to get the win but we’ve got to be better. We’ve just got to be better in situations.
(Martin getting to the line): He’s always got to the line, that’s what he can do. He can draw fouls. He’s got a deceptive type of game where he gets a step on a guy he really knows how to draw fouls and he’s an excellent free throw shooter. We needed production and we needed to get this win. Our guys came out really strong. A win’s a win and now we’ve got to move on to Utah and regroup.
I’m sure he feels a lot better. There’s so many things we can do with Kevin that we haven’t even addressed yet. Guys need to understand he’s a unique player and when he gets the ball you don’t need to run over there and play pick-and-roll with him because all you’re going to do is draw two guys to him. Very few people can keep him in front of them, so we’ve got to just get used to him and keep building on that. I think he’s got to feel a lot better and I certainly do and everybody else does. Those three guys carried us offensively.
(second half issues): I thought it was our concentration. Again, we have to play the game smart. It’s not just a physical game, it’s a mental game, too. We didn’t do it. There are situations that come up and you cannot lose your concentration. We were acting like (our record) was 50 and something. We’re trying to win a game here and that’s very disturbing to me that we don’t realize we’ve lost 6 of our last 7. There’s no time to be complacent and think you’ve got it made and that’s how it felt. It was like, ‘well we’ve got this game.’ You’ve got to finish the game and we didn’t do it.
(Aaron’s playing time): I just felt we’re at a situation here where we needed to get something positive going. The first half I did not think it was too taxing on him. It wasn’t like it was up and down; we were scoring but it wasn’t just an all out run. I just felt I was going to play him – and I played Kevin longer than I planned on doing, too – because we needed this win. We had to get this win tonight, we got it and now other guys have to be ready tomorrow because we have a back-to-back game. I just made a decision that this was a game we needed to get and Aaron was going to have to be on the floor.
(areas of focus): I think ball movement and spacing was what we talked about the most. If we did that, we felt like we could attack this team with the people we had. For example, if Kevin or Aaron got it on the run, we had to get out of the way to see if they could make something happen and get us some easy baskets. We haven’t been getting easy baskets and by getting to the line that many times and getting open shots, I thought we did a much better job of that and that’s what we have to do. Our team is totally different now. San Antonio is so good with the strong side defense, you can’t attack them on that side, you have to move them and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.
(On controlling the tempo of the game for four quarters)
“It felt pretty good. I still think I have a lot of work to do closing out games. We let them back in it and had to rely on free throw shooting, but we have a lot of work to do still.”
(On having three players in 30 point figures for the first time in Rockets history)
“It felt good to get a win by any means. It just felt good to get a win and congratulations to the new guys on their first win (as Rockets). They finally got a chance to hear the celebration music walking out, so that was good.”
(how do you feel after playing all those minutes?): This isn’t meant to be a plug for Jamba Juice but I just had a Jamba Juice so I feel pretty good. I’ve got about 12 or 24 hours to rest, so I’ll be fine. I’m young still. I don’t have Deke’s legs.
(On the Rockets having three 30-point scorers)
“The only thing is that we win. At the end of the day that’s what we care about. We've won a lot of games without that before and if somebody has to score, then so be it. It's not a common thing. It probably won't happen.
And I don’t think it’s good, either. I would like everybody to score 10 or 15 points. There were a lot of nights this year and other years where we had like 7 guys with 12-plus points and that’s when you really make a difference.
(On the play of Kevin Martin)
“I think that’s the most important thing of the day is Kevin (having a strong game). We, the guys who have been here before him, could finally make him comfortable and can find a way that he likes playing where he feels more effective and we need him scoring. That’s the truth. So, if he feels comfortable, everything will be easier for us.”
(getting off to a good start): It was a big relief. Two nights ago was a really rough night for me. It was a nightmare. Games like that happen and I kind of punished myself because it shouldn’t happen but it did happen and I couldn’t wait for this day to come. That day and half was like a week for me.
(On his play tonight)
“I was active tonight and some shots went down. I wish I could hit more and be a little bit more efficient. But, you know overall it’s a win and I think at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”
(success from the free throw line as a team): It was key. Free throws slow a team’s momentum down and guys were hitting them tonight. Aaron did a great job of hitting them at the end and Luis didn’t miss one so it was good.
(taking it to the rim more): Against Orlando in the first half I was settling for too many jumpers and that’s not my game. My game is to get to the hole and that’s when my outside shot starts falling. In the second half I did that against Orlando and I just wanted to do the same thing tonight. I’m getting there. Tonight was just another step forward.
(On the Rockets fast start tonight)
“You've just got to come out with energy and things were clicking for us early. We were being aggressive going to the basket and taking them (Spurs) out of their rhythm. Chuck (Hayes) was doing a great job on Tim Duncan and that’s the number 1 key to get Tim to not play the way he usually plays.”
(On the Rockets strong first quarter)
“We said before the game, we have to play with a sense of urgency and that was lacking especially in our starts the last month or month and a half. I thought we came out and played with a great sense of urgency. We knew how important this game was to get off the losing streak before a tough game tomorrow night (at Utah). Tony Parker wasn't playing, so we had to get this one. We really came out and shared the ball and we really played a great first half.”
(On the Rockets team effort)
“I thought Kevin and Aaron and Luis did a great job. This is sort of what we've been waiting for the last three games really. We ran the offense the way it’s designed to be run with back doors and lay-ups and screens for each other and great ball movement. Kevin (Martin) is a smart player and he is really going to help our offense and our offensive creativity.”
SPURS COACH GREGG POPOVICH
(on the game) “Houston did a great job! They were very physical and aggressive from the start. We turned the ball over and shot the ball very poorly. They jumped out and got a big lead and I liked the way our bench played. I never thought about taking them (the bench) out.”
(on the game) “We had a bad start. You have to give credit to them. They had three guys with 30 points and two guys with 14 free throws. It’s very hard to combat an effort like that.”
(on the Spurs bench play in the second half) “Our second unit did a good job of getting us back into the game. The guys out on the court were the guys making the run. You don’t penalize them and take them out when the score gets close.”
(on the bench play) “The second unit came out and were able to make shots and get some stops. Coach liked the way we were playing and didn’t want to change the momentum and keep the rhythm going. Houston was really hot. Two guys combined for 28 free throws without a miss tells you a lot.”
(on the fourth quarter comeback) “We came out with the same approach as when we started the game. We were trying to win it. Houston made their run and we made ours but it was too late and not enough. Anything can happen in a basketball game and a lot of guys believed we could win and we tried hard to do it.”
Tonight’s attendance of 18,195 marks the ninth sellout for the Rockets this season.
Houston snapped a four-game (2/6/10-2/24/10) losing streak at Toyota Center with a 109-104 win over San Antonio tonight.
The Rockets outscored the Spurs by a 31-14 count in the first quarter, which matched San Antonio’s season low for first quarter points (14 first on 11/6/09 at Portland). Houston’s 31 first-quarter points also marked its most over the opening 12 minutes since setting a season-high 39 first-quarter points vs. Golden State (2/2/10).
Kevin Martin registered 33 points (9-24 FG, 14-14 FT), five rebounds and four assists tonight. Martin marked his 13th 20-point outing of the season (fourth 30-point game) and his first as a member of the Rockets.
Luis Scola posted a career-best 30 points (8-17 FG, 14-14 FT) and 13 rebounds tonight, marking his 21st double-double of the season and the 59th double-double of his career. Scola’s previous high was 28 points (10-15 FG, 8-10 FT) at Golden State (4/10/09).
Martin and Scola each tied Houston’s individual record for most free throws made in a game without a miss is 14-of-14 (14-14 FT by Don Kojis on 3/1/69 vs. L.A. Lakers, 14-14 FT by Cuttino Mobley on 3/8/01 vs. L.A. Clippers and 14-14 FT Yao Ming on 11/9/07 vs. Milwaukee). They were also the first Rockets tandem to go perfect from the line with 10 or more attempts since Calvin Murphy (10-10 FT) and Jimmy Walker (10-10 FT) vs. Golden State (11/22/1972).
Aaron Brooks added 31 points (13-23 FG, 1-3 3FG) and three assists tonight. Brooks has now made at least one 3-pointer in a career-best 30 consecutive games (12/22/09-2/26/10), which is the second-longest such streak in team history (37 by Luther Head from 11/4/06-1/13/07).
Tonight marked the second time this season the Rockets have had three starters net 20-plus points in the same game: Trevor Ariza (28), Shane Battier (23) and Luis Scola (20) at Sacramento (11/13/09). The last time prior to 2009-10 that three starters each posted 20 points in the same outing was back in 2006-07 (Yao-30, McGrady-25, Alston-21 on 4/14/07 vs. New Orleans).
Tonight also marked the second time this season that a Rockets tandem reached 30 points in the same game (Brooks-34 and Landry-31 on 1/6/10 at Phoenix) and the first time ever in team history for three players with 30 points in the same outing.
George Hill scored a career-high 26 points (8-14 FG, 3-5 3FG, 7-8 FT) tonight, netting 11 in the third quarter. His previous best was 23 twice before (last on 2/3/10 at Sacramento).
Tim Duncan, who had 25 points (15-21 FT) and 14 rebounds in the last meeting at San Antonio (1/22/10), had 17 points (8-17 FG) and eight boards tonight.
Manu Ginobili finished with eight points (1-8 FG, 6-6 FT) and a season-high 10 rebounds tonight. Ginobili has actually missed the last two Rockets-Spurs contests in Houston (3/14/09 and 11/27/09). He finished with 11 points (2-6 FG) and five turnovers in 21:42 off the bench in his last game played at Houston (11/29/08).
Tony Parker was placed on the inactive list tonight. Parker also missed two previous games due to a left hip flexor sprain (missed 2/11/10 at Denver and at 2/21/10 at Detroit).