Milwaukee can’t buck ugly trend
Kevin Martin scored 36 points, and the Rockets snapped a four-game home losing streak in a 93-84 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Luis Scola had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Jordan Hill added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Rockets.
Corey Maggette scored a season-high 25 points for the Bucks, who have lost 11 straight games in Houston and remain the only team without a victory at the Toyota Center, which opened in 2003.
Milwaukee has lost eight of its last 10 games overall.
“For some reason, we had no energy,” Bucks center Andrew Bogut said. “It was looking like everybody was tired. It looked like we were just worn out.”
The Rockets looked lethargic for a while, too. They shot 37 percent (35 of 95) and 1 for 11 from three-point range and mustered only 39 points by halftime.
Martin asked officials to change basketballs at halftime and that seemed to help the Rockets, who hit 14 of 23 shots and scored 35 points in the third.
“We weren’t playing with that ball anymore,” Martin said. “That ball felt like it just came out of the package.”
Houston also improved its passing after halftime, recording eight assists in the third quarter after getting just 12 in the first half.
“We were moving the ball, and that’s the best thing about our team when we’re rolling,” Martin said. “When we’re moving the ball, we’re hard to stop.”
Scola, 3 for 11 in the first half, scored seven points in the first 6 minutes after halftime to pull the Rockets even at 53-all. Shane Battier made Houston’s first 3 with 1:35 left in the third quarter, and Martin’s free throws in the last minute to put the Rockets up 70-64.
Scola and Martin combined to score 22 points in the third quarter and the Rockets took a 74-66 lead to the fourth.
Houston missed nine of its first 10 shots in the final quarter, but the Bucks couldn’t make up enough ground. Hill hit a jumper and a driving layup to push the lead to nine.
“We were right there,” Maggette said, “but we just gave Houston too many opportunities.”
The game got off to an ugly start, with the teams combining to miss 18 of their first 23 shots.
The Rockets found their touch first, building a six-point lead on Martin’s second dunk of the game. The Bucks missed 14 of their first 19 shots, some of them layups.
Ersan Ilyasova’s jumper with 1.8 seconds left in the first quarter made it 18-15.
Early in the second quarter, Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden blocked Hill’s shot on a drive, and Hill landed hard on his side. Hill stayed on the floor for several minutes as Houston’s trainers checked on him.
“It just knocked the wind out of me,” Hill said. “I couldn’t talk. I had to take small, little breaths.”
Hill stayed in the game and hit two free throws for a 22-19 Houston lead.
Both teams were shooting 33 percent (10 for 33) for the game midway through the second quarter and neither team had hit a 3-pointer (0 for 10) or reached 30 points.
Scola just beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper to tie it at 39-all. Maggette had 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting in the first half to lead the Bucks — the rest of the team shot 11 for 33.
“Both teams, in the first half, missed a ton of shots,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “It’s hard to score in the low 80s and win games in this league. We just didn’t execute well.”