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News » Rockets can handle prosperity Bench rises to occasion, helps keep Thunder at bay ROCKETS: Offense remains effective


Rockets can handle prosperity Bench rises to occasion, helps keep Thunder at bay ROCKETS: Offense remains effective


Rockets can handle prosperity Bench rises to occasion, helps keep Thunder at bay ROCKETS: Offense remains effective Rockets update

Friday: Rockets 105, Thunder 94.

Record: 4-2.

Tuesday: at Mavericks, 7:30 p.m.

TV/radio: FSH; 610 AM and 850 AM (Spanish).

As much as had been made of the Rockets' encouraging start through the five-game test to open the season, they had not been asked to do what had to be done Friday night.

For the first time this season, they were out in front, playing at home in a game they seemed to control and against a team they handle.

The electricity in the building evident in the home opener and against the Lakers on Wednesday was long gone, as well as 3,000 or so fans. A young Oklahoma City team with talent, but little buzz, was sticking around. The Rockets could not play their usual underdog role.

Instead, they hit themselves with a jolt of high-speed offense in the second quarter, then called upon it as needed to handle the Thunder 105-94, running their winning streak against the Thunder/SuperSonics to 11 games.

"I was concerned," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said after tying Jack Ramsay for 11th place in NBA history with 864 wins. "We got to come out with the attitude this is the type of game we have to win at home."

The Rockets scored easily from the start, hitting 53.8 percent of their shots, scoring 22 points on the break and 54 in the paint. But 4? minutes into the second quarter, the Thunder were within one, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant well on their way to a combined 60 points.

Critical surge

Then the Rockets' bench took over. If the Rockets were worried there might be energy missing with the loss of electricity in the building compared to Wednesday's game against the Lakers, they had something they did not two nights earlier.

Chase Budinger came back from his sprained left ankle, and along with Carl Landry and Kyle Lowry, gave the Rockets a sudden rush of offense. Budinger scored 14 points in 16 first-half minutes, twice finishing breaks with slams and knocking down a 3-pointer with his first shot since his fourth-quarter surge in Utah on Monday.

"That's what we try to do," Lowry said. "Our first unit, if they start off slowly, we have to come in, and if they start off fast, we have to play with energy, no matter what. The bench is coming in and doing things, and getting tempo, and getting the crowd into it and making plays."

Expanding the lead

When Lowry set up Budinger for another 3 with 2? minutes left before halftime, the Rockets had their largest lead of the half, 11 points, and a sense they could get the bursts when needed.

"You could feel the energy rise with the players and with the crowd," Budinger said of that flurry. "That's what we need."

The Rockets never put the Thunder away until the final minutes, but neither did they ever seem threatened again.

The Rockets led 82-69 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Durant came around screens to put in consecutive jumpers and Westbrook took off on a break to a slam. That cut the lead to seven, and the Thunder would move to within six.

Yet, whenever the Rockets could feel the Thunder closing in, they seemed to have another break or two, a pass to the rim, or a drive ready to go to open up the lead again before things got tense.

jonathan.feigen@chron.com


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 10, 2009

 

 
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