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
“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.