Budinger, Scola Lead Rockets Past Wizards
HOUSTON (AP) Chase Budinger stayed patient and quiet, while Houston coach Kevin McHale left him on the bench over the past three games.
With leading scorer Kevin Martin injured on Friday night, Budinger made the best of his chance to play again.
The Rockets’ backup forward sank four 3-pointers and scored a season-high 21 points and Houston blew out Washington 103-76 on Friday night.
“You just have to be professional,” Budinger said, “and just be ready and wait for the opportunity like I did.”
Jordan Hill had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who scored 41 points off Washington’s season-high 24 turnovers. Courtney Lee scored eight points for Houston in place of Martin, who sat out with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
McHale has been steadily trying to tighten Houston’s rotation, and Budinger was an odd man out after averaging only 7.1 points through the first 15 games.
“I told him that in our league, a lot of times, things just happen,” McHale said. “He stayed ready and he’s a professional man.”
Budinger didn’t vent, and continued to practice with a hopeful mindset.
“I like to play, I like to be out there on the court with my teammates,” he said. “It really just comes down to what the coach wants.”
Luis Scola scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter when Houston pulled away.
The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the last 18 minutes, helping Houston outscore them 46-21 over that span to win for the eighth time in nine games.
John Wall had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Washington, playing its second game under Randy Wittman.
“I think we get tired and we lose our concentration and we throw the ball all over the gym,” Wittman said. “For 30 minutes, we played hard, smart, for the most part, we got after it. The bad thing about that is that it’s a 48-minute game.”
The Rockets started slowly for the second straight home game, shooting 26 percent (6 of 23) and scoring a season-low 17 points in the first quarter. Wall had eight points and two assists in the quarter, and Washington built a 7-point lead.
Lee swished a mid-range jumper early in the second quarter to start a 16-4 Houston run. The Wizards aided Houston with five turnovers in the first six minutes of the quarter.
Budinger sank two 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the first half to help the Rockets lead 44-41 at the break.
“I just came in and wanted to be active,” said Budinger, who also had eight rebounds. “That’s what my whole goal was, to make an impact in the game.”
Samuel Dalembert dunked, then blocked two shots early in the third quarter, as Houston protected its slim lead. Kyle Lowry’s free throws with 7:45 left in the quarter put the Rockets up 55-49, their biggest lead to that point.
Washington stalled its own rallies by continuing to cough up turnovers. The Rockets outscored Washington 21-7 in the last six minutes of the quarter, converting four turnovers into eight points.
“We were close, and then turned the ball over consistently,” Wall said. “They got way too many points off of our turnovers. We gave them too many easy shots, and we let Scola do whatever he wanted.”
Goran Dragic’s straight-on 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in the quarter gave Houston a 78-62 lead heading to the fourth. Budinger swished another 3 early in the last quarter as the lead swelled over 20.
“That’s tough,” Wall said, “but in the NBA, when you miss a lot of shots, it gets very ugly.”
The Wizards went scoreless through the first five minutes of the quarter, going 0-for-10 from the field, before Nick Young’s mid-range jumper with 6:45 remaining trimmed the deficit to 93-64.
Not long after that, McHale was tapping deep into his bench, with former D-League star Jeff Adrien, seldom-used guard Terrence Williams and center Hasheem Thabeet on the floor for the final minutes.
NOTES: Houston held a double-digit lead for the 12th consecutive game. It’s the Rockets’ longest streak since 2008, when they had double-digit leads in 20 straight games during their 22-game winning streak. … The Rockets have won 19 consecutive games when holding their opponent below 90 points. … The Wizards were outrebounded 55-44 and dropped to 0-12 when losing the rebound margin this season. … The Rockets’ winning margin was a season high. … Wizards F Kevin Seraphin sat out after getting six teeth pulled on Thursday, Wittman said.