The Houston Rockets came up with a massive win to start off their longest home stand of the season. With games against Minnesota, Utah, Memphis, Philadelphia and Toronto remaining, the Rockets got their toughest game of the stretch out of the way early and finished with a “W.”
Kevin Martin, who has struggled lately, came up with one of his best performances of the season when the team needed it most. The Rockets had lost back-to-back road games to finish a six-game road trip, which was followed immediately with a home game against the best team in the Western Conference.
Martin finished with 32 points on 10-18 from the field and a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. He scored one less than Durant (third in the NBA in scoring), but he did it in a much more efficient manner. The Rockets forced Durant to take 26 shots to score his 33 points.
Much of the credit for Durant’s shooting struggles goes to rookie Chandler Parsons who has been drawing the toughest defensive assignments for coach Kevin McHale. Parsons has the length and quickness to match up with Durant about as well as anyone out there. Obviously Parsons didn’t exactly shut down Durant, but no one does. He did make him work for his points and made him consume possessions.
Martin was not the only one who came out of his recent struggles to lead the Rockets, Samuel Dalembert had a good game and an enormous first quarter. Just 30 seconds into the second quarter Dalembert had 10 rebounds in helping Houston get out to a 29-16 lead.
Dalembert ended up adding a couple more rebounds, three blocks, three steals and two assists, as well as changing numerous other shots and adding hustle to a team that had seen him flat footed too frequently lately.
If both Martin and Dalembert can bring this type of impact every game, the Rockets will have a legitimate shot at claiming home court in the first round of the playoffs—if not beyond that. Obviously to expect 32 points out of Martin or three blocks out of Dalembert is asking too much, but it is not too much to ask Martin to be a consistent scoring threat or Dalembert to be an interior presence on defense.