Rockets 124, Cavaliers 119
Shane Battier hasn't been able to ignore the constant trade rumors. They've consumed Houston's forward, playing with his mind and game.
Soon, the talk will end. The deadline is near.
Battier can't wait for it to pass.
''Whether I get moved or not, at least I will have peace of mind,'' he said.
Reserve Chase Budinger scored a career-high 30 points, including 11 straight in the fourth quarter, and Kevin Martin added 30 more as the Rockets opened the NBA season's unofficial second half with a 124-119 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Budinger scored 14 in the fourth, combining with Martin for Houston's final 24 points as the Rockets avoided losing to the NBA's worst team.
Afterward, Battier dressed slowly and iced his knees as he was again asked about the possibility of being dealt by Thursday at 3 p.m. Several teams have shown interest in Battier, whose value is increased because he has an expiring $7.3 million contract.
Battier admitted the talks have been distracting.
''It does take up a lot of your energy because it is so prevalent,'' said Battier, who has been traded once before. ''Everywhere you go, you're asked about it. For me, it is a little bit different. I have never had an expiring contract, so I have been attractive for different reasons. I know I am more tradable, or trade-bait or whatever you want to call it this year.''
The Cavaliers, who were coming off a shocking upset of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break, played hard but had some bad lapses on defense. Antawn Jamison scored 26 points and Ramon Sessions had 20 and 12 assists.
Cleveland's biggest problem was it couldn't contain Chuck Hayes, who had 17 rebounds - 13 offensive - and helped the Rockets to a 57-37 rebounding advantage.
''We let one guy control the game,'' Jamison said of Hayes. ''He set the tone.''
The Rockets are hoping to gain ground in the Western Conference, which has been shaken up by the blockbuster trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams in the past two days. Houston (28-31) began the night in 11th place.
''We go down this stretch of the season and we have to play with desperation every night,'' coach Rick Adelman said. ''Every time we practice and everything we do, we can't think we have accomplished anything. When we get contributions from eight or nine guys we are a pretty good team.''
Budinger was an unlikely hero for the Rockets, who have won four straight road games. The 6-foot-7 forward made the most of his 29 minutes, making four 3-pointers and adding eight rebounds. He didn't realize he had scored so many until someone told him afterward.
''During the flow of the game you just play,'' he said. ''Coach left me out there and I was just trying to attack the basket. I didn't even know how many points I had.''
Budinger's 3 with 6:15 left put the Rockets ahead 107-104, and he capped his personal 11-point run with a layup to make it 111-107. The Cavs went cold from the floor and Martin scored two straight buckets, the second on a layup after Kyle Lowry threw him a long, overhead pass.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott has been emphasizing defense, but the Cavs showed little resistance, allowing the Rockets to score 61 in the first half and 63 in the second.
''If you look at the stat sheet, offensively, we probably should have won,'' Scott said. ''But if you give a team like that 22 offensive rebounds, you make it very tough on yourself. They were more physical and aggressive.''
The Cavaliers have been busy working the phones to see if they can get better, but the club doesn't seem close to pulling off any major move. General manager Chris Grant would like to acquire young players or draft picks to help him rebuild.
The hours ahead will be tense for players, owners and executives.
''I think there will be relief for 99.9 percent of the league after tomorrow,'' Martin said.
NOTES: Hayes grabbed 12 rebounds in the first quarter, setting an arena record for rebounds in a quarter. ... The Cavs played without guards Mo Williams (ankle) and Daniel Gibson. Scott said Gibson was kept out because the team is ''letting him deal with some personal things.'' ... Adelman wasn't surprised but was saddened to hear NBA Commissioner David Stern say the league can no longer help Sacramento with funding for a new arena. Adelman coached the Kings for eight seasons. ''The arena needed to be built a long time ago,'' he said. ''Something has to give. It's unfortunate.'' ... Scott claims to have over 100 suits, but you'll never see him wearing the same one during the season. He labels his dress clothes, so if he pulls out a suit that says ''away,'' he'll wear it for one home game and then hang it up until the following season.