Rockets 107, Bobcats 87

The Houston Rockets didn’t look like a team distracted by rumors

on the eve of the NBA’s trade deadline.

Luis Scola scored 23 points, Goran Dragic had 14 points and 10

assists and the Rockets routed the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats

107-87 on Wednesday night.

Samuel Dalembert added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan

Hill scored 14 for the Rockets, who’ve won two in a row after

dropping six of their previous seven games.

Derrick Brown scored 15 to lead the Bobcats, who’ve lost 20 of

23 road games.

Houston has always been active leading up to the trade deadline

since Daryl Morey took over as general manager in May 2007. The

Rockets were ready to trade Scola, Dragic and Kevin Martin to

acquire Pau Gasol before the season began, but the proposed

three-team deal was rejected by NBA commissioner David Stern for

”basketball reasons.”

Scola was hopeful that he would still be a Rocket after

Thursday, but also acknowledged he expects the team to make a deal

of some kind before the deadline.

”There’s nothing else I can do, from this point on,” Scola

said. ”This was the last game, we don’t have practice (Thursday).

I have nothing to do to control that.

”I think I’m going to be here,” he said. ”I just don’t know

what’s going to happen.”

Dragic has played well in four games starting since Kyle Lowry

was stricken with a bacterial infection. He says there’s been

little talk about trade rumors in the Houston locker room, but says

the possibility that he’ll be dealt lingers in the back of his

mind.

”Everybody’s thinking about that,” Dragic said. ”But the last

few games, we’ve played well. We are professional basketball

players. We cannot think about that every game. If you have a game,

you have to be 100 percent to give your best in the game.”

The Rockets certainly seemed ready Wednesday night, following up

an unlikely win in Oklahoma City with one of their most efficient

offensive performances of the season. The Rockets finished one shy

of their season high in assists (27) and shot 55 percent overall

(45 of 84) from the field.

”We talked about the first five minutes of the third quarter

being really important,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. ”Let’s

extend this thing out and make sure we give ourselves a big, big

cushion after the first five minutes and make them feel like it’s

not their night. We were able to do that.”

The Rockets went 6 for 9 from 3-point range for the game and got

away with 18 turnovers by outrebounding the Bobcats 46-30.

”We just didn’t have it,” Charlotte coach Paul Silas said.

”We just didn’t play tough enough.”

The Rockets had an 18-point lead four minutes into the second

quarter, but the Bobcats rallied.

D.J. Augustin sank a 3, then dished to Reggie Williams for a

layup and an eventual three-point play at the end of a 13-2 burst

that cut the deficit to 41-36.

Houston scored on back-to-back fast breaks to restore the

double-digit cushion. Chase Budinger just beat the buzzer with a

jumper from the free-throw line and Houston led 50-40 at the

break.

”We were a little mad in the second quarter,” Scola said. ”We

kind of let them back in the game.”

The Rockets opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to match

their biggest lead to that point. Scola had 10 points over the

first five minutes of the quarter, and Houston scored 36 points, a

season high for a third quarter, to extend the lead to 29.

Scola scored 14 points and Dalembert had 10 in the third

quarter. Houston hit 15 of 19 shots and outrebounded Charlotte 13-4

in the quarter to lead 86-57 heading to the fourth.

”I just don’t want us to give up,” Silas said. ”We really

have to work hard and keep playing. I didn’t think we played that

hard tonight.”

Houston guard Courtney Lee, starting in place of the injured

Kevin Martin, said he dislocated his left middle finger in two

places in the fourth quarter. McHale said he didn’t think the

injury was serious.

Notes: Martin sat out for the second straight game with a

strained right shoulder. … The Rockets are 16-6 against the

Eastern Conference this season. … The Bobcats are 1-32 when

trailing after three quarters. … Bobcats F Eduardo Najera (right

knee inflammation) missed his second straight game.