SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Despite missing leading scorer Kevin Martin and point guard Kyle Lowry for more than a month, the Houston Rockets are playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Courtney Lee scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half, leading the Rockets to a 104-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

Houston has won three straight and four of the last five, including a pair of road games, where they have struggled for much of the season. The Rockets, sixth in the Western Conference, moved one-half game ahead of defending champion Dallas.

Houston is getting consistent play from Goran Dragic at point guard and Lee has filled in admirably for Martin. Solid contributions from the other starters and many of the reserves has helped the Rockets win seven of their last 10.

“We’re a deep team, everyone on this team can play,” Lee said. “We’re moving the ball, we’re executing on offense. Once we get all our guys back we’ll be a pretty dangerous team.”

Martin watched the game in street clothes, but Lowry played for the first time after missing 15 games with a bacterial infection that required hospitalization. Lowry came off the bench in the first quarter and finished with one point and seven assists in 18 minutes.

“I was glad to be back. I wanted to play last game (Friday against the Lakers) but coach said no,” Lowry said. “It wasn’t a break I wanted to take, but I definitely feel good.”

Dragic was a steady influence on offense, continually penetrating the Kings defense and finishing with 15 points and nine assists. Chase Budinger was a big factor in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 15 points. Luis Scola added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Patrick Patterson had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Houston entered the game well rested, playing just twice over the previous seven days. Both were significant wins as the Rockets beat East-leading Chicago on the road and the visiting Lakers on Friday.

“We had a huge win at Chicago, now we’ve got two in a row on the road,” Dragic said. “This year we haven’t played well on the road, but this would be a great time to start. We’re playing very well as a team right now. We have great team chemistry.”



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