As it turns out, the Rockets did get a phenomenal performance from their backcourt, and the big guys did come through. The story of this game is the fact that Martin, Brooks, and Scola combined for 94 of the Rockets' 109 points. For the first time in Rockets' history, three players scored over 30 points each. That's pretty remarkable, given that:
- One would think that maybe the early Hakeem/Drexler/Barkley teams might have pulled it off once.
- Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks have largely flown under the NBA's radar for the past two seasons.
Martin and Luis played an excellent two-man game in the first half, and I think it should be obvious by now that Speed is going to fit in great with this team. He's clearly still hurting from his wrist injury (1-6 on 3PA on the night), but he's still finding open space for himself and opening up the offensive game for his teammates. This was definitely a breakout game for Kevin Martin as a Rocket, and hopefully he can keep up this sort of performance (maybe not the point output, but certainly in the efficiency).
Just as intriguing (to me, anyways) was Adelman's decision to play his starters almost exclusively. Only Chase Budinger got any large amount of time off the bench, and the Rockets went small throughout the night (ironically, Rick referred to playing without Chuck on the floor as "playing small"). Maybe that was partly to exploit the Spurs' geezerly ways, or maybe Rick just fell asleep at the scorer's table, but it worked.
The Rockets will likely pay for that decision tonight, though. They have basically the worst possible circumstances to overcome: 2nd night of a back-to-back in Utah. Adelman obviously knew that, and I suspect he doesn't care too much. The Rockets (the fans, too) needed this win, and when the Rockets opened up a can of whoopass on the Spurs early in the first, I'd probably decide to capitalize, too. Without Lowry and Landry, the Rockets' bench is very much depleted, and their best chance to win might be when the starters play 40 minutes per night.
Wow, that's a weird thing to call them, isn't it? But Martin, Brooks, and Scola are the Rockets' best players right now, and it showed. Very nice to see Scola overcome his recent struggles. Also nice to see Martin and Brooks play well together. George Hill burned them, but he does that. Perhaps Martin isn't nearly as bad on defense as he's made out to be. Combined 32-32 from the free throw line, which is just obscene.
Held Timmy to 17 points (on 17 shots) and 8 rebounds. This was absolutely critical, and Chuck continues to demonstrate his value to the Rockets. The problem, as pointed out by Morey in his recent interview with Simmons, is that he looks much worse when put in non-specialist roles (not that he has looked bad or anything). Maybe the solution is to use him more sparingly, and just go small more often. Still a one-man-army on defense, still capable of personally shutting down one of the best players in the league.
(I guess I should have just changed it to "One Up" and listed the starters)
Continues to soldier on and do everything the Rockets ask of him. He doesn't get enough mention around here, and some of you schmucks seem to think he should be traded. Tonight's defensive effort was partly his doing, so there.
Three Point Shooting:
Definitely not pretty. 3-16 on the night. Ouch. Fortunately, the
gods refs were kind, and free throws more than made up for it.
Again, tough to criticize, since the Rockets needed this win bad, but don't be surprised if the starters (particularly Shane and Scola) come out slow in Utah.
For some reason, this wasn't on FSN in Austin (and apparently wasn't broadcast), so I blame them. I hate having to find a stream.