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Game 77 Recap: Kevin Martin dominates, Rockets win 113-103

It's really that simple. Kevin Martin has obviously been the key part of this team since the deadline, and when he does well, the Rockets tend to do well. When he shoots poorly, the Rockets fail. It's a pretty simple formula, really. Nor should it be surprising that he did this against Memphis. The Grizzlies don't possess the best backcourt defense, so this is the sort of team that the Rockets should dominate right now.

And the Rockets dominated Memphis all season, really (one shouldn't put too much stock in single regular-season series, though). This will be the closest game of their series this season, and the match-up has clearly favored Houston: great scorers vs. poor perimeter defense; average defense vs. inefficient offense, etc.

The Grizzlies can score, sure, but they lack a three-point attack (Conley and Mayo are fine shooters, but their skills here are underutilized), and that allows teams to focus on their very legit inside presence. Except, of course, Marc Gasol was out, creating a pretty large gap in that offense (and rebounding).

Anyways, the point is that this is the sort of team that the Rockets can exploit (inefficient offensive scheme, below-average defense at bet), and they did just that. Nice to see after such a reeling loss as Sunday's against Indiana. The Grizzlies' decision to go for that critical "give the ball away" offense in the final two minutes certainly helped, too.

Three Up:

Kevin Martin: Speed Racer was ridiculously efficient, as always. His ability to hit seemingly every shot off of screens and picks is incredible, and you can see that the Rockets are grooming the same sort of skills in Budinger and Brooks. Martin, of course, got to the line 12 times (actually, the Rockets doubled up the Grizzlies on foul shots, and Speed was the most important part of that), making all 12. Is it wrong to look at "29 points on 16 shots" and basically shrug my shoulders? Speed is crazy quiet like that.

Trevor Ariza: Doesn't look like even the impending end of the season is going to stop Ariza from playing the role of "Chuck-a-shot-amus the Basketball-Playing Dinosaur" (do you like that? Bill Worrell has my permission to use it if he promises to stop using "Ice Cream Man" and "Hey Bud/Let's Party"). But, Trevor continues to play great defense and contribute in other little ways. Like stealing the ball in the final minute and fighting pretty hard for rebounds. I like that. Also, I'm a fan of headbands and other head paraphernalia, so he gets some points for that.

Jordan Hill / Jared Jeffries: Not the best night for the bench on the whole, but these two really stepped up. Well, not Hill, since he's been pretty good ever since the deadline, but definitely Jeffries, who decided layups were kinda his thing. First double-double in (made up number) fifteen years for the veteran out of (made up school) Scranton University. 4 blocks, too.

Hill continues to impress me, as he has done in virtually every game in which he's played. Some ferocious dunks, some nice rebounding, some quality team play. This kid is going to be great.

Three Down:

Kyle Lowry: As I said, it was a tough night for the bench in general. The Rockets' Plus/Minus Leader was -11 tonight (fwiw), and he didn't look particularly great, either. I have a question: why does Lowry feel the need to shoot threes? I'm willing to accept that there is a rational explanation for this (he's trying to develop a shot, for instance), but I cringe whenever he shoots from outside these days. Now, he makes up for that in so many ways that it's largely irrelevant, but still...

Chase Budinger: Not the best night for him, either. He knows how to shoot, and that's what he does, even when the shot doesn't fall. SWAC.

Mike Conley: I don't care if you're on the other team, I still think you suck.