A clear pattern has emerged in the Rockets' young season: the Rockets are utterly reliant upon Kyle Lowry. Kyle Lowry has played only one truly human (rather than beastly) game this season (in the loss to Memphis), but this night was pretty human: 16 points (on 14 shots), 6 assists, and 5 rebounds is a typical half for Lowry this year, after all. But he +20 tonight, while Dragic was -19, and that was fairly typical, too. When Kyle is on the floor, the Rockets outplay their opponents, but with Lowry on the bench the Rockets are very poor (82games.net-- which is a few days behind but whatever -- rates the Rockets as +1.9 points with Lowry on the court and -13.6 without).
So while the Rockets likely have an advantage at every position of the court over the Wizards, they weren't able to walk to victory, and I think at least a lot of that was simply the result of Lowry playing less than 32 minutes. But Lowry needed the rest, and the other Rockets responded to the opportunity to play the Wizards with a few exceptional games.
Kevin Martin lead the charge, scoring 25 points on just 16 shots (10-of-10 from the line). This was vintage Speed Racer, and while it came against one of the leagues worst defenses, the Wizards are actually #9 in fouling on defense, so hopefully this (as well as the Portland game on Saturday) is a sign of things to come. With Lowry sitting more, Martin also took on more of a playmaker and facilitator role: his eight assists tied a career high (set in '09 against Denver).
Dalembert's recent emergence as something of a scorer is pretty surprising, not really because his point totals decent but rather because it's coming extremely efficiently: 20 points on just 11 shots today, while Martin and Lowry went to him for a few key plays down the stretch. While we've been talking a lot about Lowry's awesome play this season, Sammy Dalembert's play has also been exceptional, making the $7 million spent on him look even better.
Scola and Parsons both put in iffy offensive games, though Parsons continues to rebound well and play great defense (two blocked shots for the rookie small forward.... like I've said, Horry-like). The bench, however, played relatively poorly, and the Rockets' defense in the fourth quarter looked very poor. Most of that was Wall destroying the Rockets on the fast break, but fast break defense was something I thought we fixed about two weeks ago.
Overall, the Rockets played very good defense, though it should be noted that the Wizards are the worst offensive team in the league. The exception was their defense on Wall. Flip Saunders let Wall play for well over 40 minutes, and he practically willed the Wizards back in the game after the Rockets took what seemed to be an insurmountable 20 point lead in the third quarter.
He might very well have taken the game from the Rockets, but a few costly turnovers and poor shots in the final minutes of the game cemented a lead produced largely by Kyle Lowry's key play in the same quarter. Lowry hit a final three that virtually iced the game, and I guess we have to wonder how many times he can do that before getting the unnecessary "clutch" label.
All praise goes to (naturally) Kyle Lowry, even if this wasn't his best game. McHale made the right choice in sitting him more in this game, and Kevin Martin gave the sort of performance we need to see from him on a routine basis. The Rockets have now won their fourth game in their last five.