Rockets 110, Cavaliers 95
Kevin Martin glanced at his stat line on the scoreboard with satisfaction after the first quarter Saturday night.
The Houston Rockets shooting guard knew right then that he was headed for a big game.
Martin scored 32 of his season-high 40 points in the first half and Luis Scola added 14 points and 14 rebounds in the Rockets' 110-95 win over the skidding Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shane Battier scored 16 for the Rockets, who outrebounded Cleveland 48-34 and went 12 for 26 from 3-point range. Martin finished 12 for 19 from the field, sank three 3-pointers and hit 13 of 14 from the free throw line.
''It was just a nice rhythm,'' Martin said. ''I had 'em on a real string tonight. It was fun.''
Martin scored a career-high 50 points on April 1, 2009, when he played for Sacramento, in a game against Golden State. He reached 40 points for the seventh time in his career on Saturday, and for the first time since the Rockets acquired him in February 2010.
''He came out at the very start and was very aggressive,'' Houston coach Rick Adelman said. ''He made 3s, he got fouls, but when he passed the ball early in the game, he made two or three hard cuts. That's something he's just got to continue to do. When he passes, he's got to make hard cuts, because he's so quick, it's going to give him the opportunity to get open.''
Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 24 points and Mo Williams added 18 points and nine assists for Cleveland. The Cavaliers have lost seven in a row, matching their longest slide since they dropped seven straight from March 29 to April 9, 2004.
The Cavaliers came into the game ranked second-to-last in 3-point defense, and Houston hit six 3s in the first quarter to build an early lead.
''We did a good job of spreading the floor,'' Battier said. ''When the ball moves, those 3-point shots are there. There's a huge difference between shooting those contested and uncontested. We got a lot of those uncontested, and we were hitting them.''
Martin, who came in averaging 22.4 points per game, scored 22 on 8-for-10 shooting in the opening quarter. He converted a three-point play and swished his third 3-pointer in the last minute to help Houston build a 37-29 cushion.
''Martin just controlled the first half of the game,'' Jamison said. ''It's hard, being in the situation that we're in and then trying to play catch-up. That makes it a little more difficult, and we weren't able to get the stops that we needed.''
The Rockets started mostly reserves in the second quarter, and continued to shoot well. Martin sat out the first 6 minutes, then added 10 more points before halftime, most of them from the free throw line.
Martin's 32 points were a personal season high and the third-most by a Rockets player in a half in team history. Vernon Maxwell scored 37 and Sleepy Floyd had 34 points in the second half of games in 1991.
Houston shot 52 percent (22 of 42) in the first half to lead 66-58 at the break. Jamison scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the half to keep the Cavs close. Williams had eight assists for Cleveland.
The Cavaliers gave away three turnovers in the first 3 minutes of the second half, and the Rockets stretched the lead to 13. Cleveland called timeout, then forced three Houston turnovers to fuel a 9-0 spurt.
Battier swished his fourth 3-pointer from the corner to end a 4-minute scoring drought for the Rockets. Cleveland missed its last six shots of the third quarter, and Houston finished with a 17-4 run to extend the lead to 92-75.
''Some of it was taking bad shots, but a lot of it was just, the ball wasn't falling,'' Jamison said of the pivotal stretch. ''We've got to understand that during the course of the game, you're going to have those lulls. The one thing you have to hang your hat on is not having the same kind of lulls defensively.''
The Cavs got no closer than 15 points in the fourth quarter, and coach Byron Scott pulled the last of his starters with about 4 minutes left.
NOTES: Martin's first-quarter point total was the third-highest in a quarter in franchise history. Maxwell scored 30 in the fourth quarter against Cleveland in January 1991, and Yao Ming had 23 points in the fourth against Washington in December 2006. ... The Rockets scored 60 points in a half for the 10th time this season. ... Scott stuck with the same lineup he had for Wednesday's loss to Chicago, with Jamison and Daniel Gibson starting. ... Jamison reached 20 points for the third time in four games.