Rockets 112, Nets 87
Battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference
and facing back-to-back games, the Houston Rockets got just what
they needed against the New Jersey Nets – a laugher, courtesy of
Lowry had 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds and the
Rockets moved within two games of eighth-place Memphis in the West
by cruising to a 112-87 win over New Jersey on Tuesday night.
”We’re just playing. We’re happy, we’re having fun,” Lowry
said after the Rockets (39-35) won for the sixth time in seven
games. ”We just go out there and we’re flowing. We know who is
going to get the ball and how we’re going to score. We’re confident
and we’re finally getting something going.”
The Rockets have made an amazing run, posting a 17-7 record
since Feb. 2 to inch within striking distance of the idle Grizzlies
(41-33) with eight games left in the regular season.
”This was a good win for us. I thought we came out with a lot
of energy,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. ”We played very well
offensively. We had the ball movement and we pushed it at them from
the very start. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Kevin Martin added 20 points for the Rockets, who make up for
the lack of a superstar by playing a team game. They had 30 assists
on their 46 baskets and controlled the boards with 56 rebounds,
including a game-high 14 by Chuck Hayes.
Against the struggling Nets, the game was over by halftime as
Houston built an 18-point lead.
That allowed Adelman to rest his starters for long stretches in
the second half with a game in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
”It was important to get guys some rest,” Lowry said. ”It’s
still a back to back, it’s still hard. We’ve got to go out there
and concentrate and play. We’re going into a hostile situation
against a good team playing for a better seed in their
Brook Lopez had 22 points for the Nets, who lost their third in
a row and seventh in eight games. Deron Williams missed his sixth
straight game for New Jersey (23-50), which has lost 50 games for
the second straight season.
”I’m disappointed,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. ”We can’t
keep writing these off as bad games. I am a competitor. We expect
more. I don’t make excuses. We just didn’t get it done
Patrick Patterson and Goran Dragic added 13 points apiece for
Jordan Farmar added 12 points and seven assists for New Jersey,
while Kris Humphries had 13 rebounds.
Lowry, who came in with a sore left foot, made sure Houston had
no problem posting its 10th straight win over the Nets.
The fourth-year point guard who was making a strong run at being
the league’s most improved player, single-handedly did in the Nets
in the first quarter. He scored 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting from
the field, hitting all three of his 3-pointers in helping the
Rockets take a 34-21 lead.
”He’s tough,” Johnson said. ”I live in the area and know him
and have watched his maturation. When they matched the offer sheet
that Cleveland gave him in the summer, you know why. He has really
turned out to be a fine guard, improved 3-point shooter, good
defensively and a hard-nosed player.”
Houston put the game away in the final four minutes of the
quarter, scoring 14 straight points in a 17-2 run. Lowry hit a
three-point play and a 3-point basket in the run that also featured
four point from Patterson and a 3-point basket by Chase Budinger,
one of 11 in the game for the Rockets.
”It was a culmination of defensive errors and poor offense,”
Johnson said. ”Right now with the state of our team, we’re not
good enough to survive poor starts.”
Houston built the lead to 18 at the half and expanded the margin
to 26 points in the third quarter.
Notes: Lowry extended his career-best streak of double-figure
scoring games to 15. … The Rockets’ 61 points in the first half
marked the 31st time this season that Houston has scored at least
60 points in a half. … The 10 straight losses to Houston are the
Nets’ longest current losing streak against any NBA opponent. …
The last time the Nets had consecutive 50-loss seasons was
1999-2000 and 00-01.