Rockets 93, Bucks 84: Kevin Martin drags Rockets past hapless Bucks

Abbreviated recap for now. Check back later for updates, unless you've erased the game from your memory by then. If that's the case, enjoy your ignorance.

Three Bucks

Drew Gooden. Gooden was probably the most effective Buck this afternoon in his 30 minutes off the bench. He played far better than Ersan Ilyasova, who never got his shot going (2/10) and played only 23 minutes. Gooden looked good shooting his spot-up jumper from baseline to elbow, and showcased his "finishing ability" once or twice, laying it in after baiting a defender with a nice shot fake. He also grabbed a team-high 11 boards. Gooden's contract might not be favorable, but more often than not he has been a productive member of Milwaukee's frontcourt.

Corey Maggette. A season-high 25 points for Maggette, despite shooting only 2-4 at the free-throw line. He still takes too many jumpers and turns the ball over too much (4 TOs today), but when he flashes into the lane for easy layups or draws contact, it puts a little smile on Bucks fans' faces. Alas, that smile quickly fades when the next three Milwaukee shot attempts hit the bottom of the rim, the shot clock, and nothing, in turn.

John Salmons. Salmons earns the final spot here by default, which incidentally is the same way he earns the ball in his hands in crucial late-game possessions. Let's face it, the Bucks ARE NOT capable of running effective plays when they really need them. Maybe it's a question of execution, or maybe Scott Skiles is just not a guy who knows how to draw such a thing up, but it has reached full-blown crisis mode without a doubt. Telling Earl Boykins to dribble around for 18 seconds is not effective offense. Having Salmons or Maggette drive into traffic, only to have to ball stripped and give up a run-out is not effective offense. Salmons had been playing better recently, with double-figure scoring in his last 13 games, but he has never regained the "closing" ability that made him so good during last season's home stretch.

Three Numbers

17-7. Houston grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to Milwaukee's 7. The Rockets also outrebounded the Bucks on the whole 53-44. Houston didn't shoot well from the floor, but they got enough second chances and trips to the line to make up for it.

14-18. The number of free throws made and attempted by Kevin Martin, who torched the Bucks for 36 points despite a surprising 0-2 mark from deep. Martin is the darling of the statistical community for his efficient scoring, and tonight he showed why. He got his points on jumpers, he got them at the stripe (even drawing a pair of 3-shot fouls), and most infuriatingly for the defensive-minded Bucks, he got them on a whole bunch of cuts leading to dunks. Martin played a stellar give-and-go game, and his teammates delivered good passes right on target to get him easy points.

7. The number of blocks by the Bucks, who got at least one rejection from every forward who stepped on the court not named Corey Maggette. Milwaukee can hang its hat on shot blocking and defense, but the part of the outfit that wins games remains strewn across the floor. Note: I am aware of how lame that metaphor is, please just bear with me.

One Good

Defending the floor. The combination of Milwaukee's defense and an atrocious first half of shooting for Houston led to a 36.8 FG% for the Rockets on the game. Despite finishing with 19 points and looking pretty good for most of the second half, Luis Scola shot 8-25, while Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry went 3-17 combined. Aside from Martin, nobody from the Rockets had a particularly good game. Unfortunately for the Bucks, good defense on the floor again proved insufficient to get a win.

Two Bad

Toyota Center stands undefeated. According to Fox Sports Houston's broadcast, the Bucks remain the only NBA team without a win in the Toyota Center. The Rockets stretched their home winning streak against the Bucks to 12 games this afternoon and dropped Milwaukee to 6-15 on the road.

Losing at the line. Kevin Martin's stat line tells a pretty clear story, and something had to make up for Houston's poor shooting. After all, the Rockets made only one of their eleven three-point attempts. Going 22-28 at the stripe will help that. Houston got easy points, Milwaukee didn't (5-11 at the line). That disparity alone played a huge part in the Rockets' victory.

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