Rockets-Warriors Preview

As bad as their leading scorer has been, the Houston Rockets are

doing quite well on their longest road trip of the season thanks

greatly to their bench.

The Rockets surely would like to see Kevin Martin rediscover his

shooting touch as they go for a fourth straight win Sunday night

when they face the Golden State Warriors.

Since opening this six-game trip with a 100-91 loss to Minnesota

last Saturday, Houston (16-11) has won three in a row, including a

96-89 victory over Phoenix on Thursday.

Martin entered the road swing averaging 20.7 points but has been

held to a combined 16 in the last four games, shooting 19.2 percent

and missing all nine of his 3-point attempts.

His drop-off is part of coach Kevin McHale’s overall concern

about his starters not pulling their weight.

“We’re going to have to get better, but we’ll address that,”

McHale said of the starting five.

The Rockets reserves have picked up the slack. They outscored

their Suns counterparts 57-13 on Thursday, led by 14 points from

Patrick Patterson and 12 from Chase Budinger. Goran Dragic added 11

points and matched a career high with 11 assists.

Houston’s second unit also keyed a 103-96 win at Portland the

previous night with a 66-point performance.

All five players who came off the Rockets bench Thursday scored

in double figures and they combined to shoot 59.5 percent, compared

to 38.6 by the starters.

“Our bench has been amazing – simple as that,” starter Kyle

Lowry said. “Tonight every last one of them went over 50-percent

shooting from the field. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Budinger is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds during the

win streak, going 10 for 19 from 3-point range. Patterson has 25

points and 13 rebounds over the last two games while shooting 11 of

15 from the field. Fellow reserve Courtney Lee has scored in double

figures in a season-high three straight games.

Maybe a visit to Oracle Arena can help get Martin going. That’s

where he scored a career-high 50 points April 1, 2009, and he’s

averaged 28.3 in his last six games there.

Martin and the Rockets have not faced the Warriors since winning

three of four meetings last season as he averaged 29.3 points.

Houston has won 12 of 13 against Golden State (9-14), including

six of seven at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors avoided a third straight loss with a 109-101

victory at Denver on Wednesday behind Stephen Curry’s season-high

36 points. He shot 13 of 17 overall, including 6 for 9 from 3-point

range, to go with seven assists and seven rebounds.

“Just a spectacular night,” coach Mark Jackson said. “When you

look at that stat line it’s a thing of beauty.”

While Curry took care of things offensively, the Warriors

received a solid team effort defensively. Ekpe Udoh had five of the

team’s season-high 14 blocks and Golden State held the Nuggets to

34.9-percent shooting over the second and third quarters. The

Warriors had given up an average of 116.5 points in the previous

two games.

“Coach ripped us at halftime about our effort,” Curry said. “Our

effort was just awful so we had to come out and get defensive stops

and when we got stops, we were able to run and get out in

transition and we were able to execute our offense really well and

knock down open shots.”

The Warriors are playing the first of three straight games at

home, where they are 6-8.