NEW YORK (AP) Kevin Martin scored 28 points, Luis Scola added 24, and the Houston Rockets climbed a little further out of the hole they dug to start the season by beating the struggling New York Knicks 104-96 on Sunday night
Courtney Lee had 12 for the Rockets, who have won three of four after opening the season with five straight losses. Even without injured starters Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, they beat the Knicks for the 13th time in 15 meetings.
Amare Stoudemire scored 25 points for the Knicks, who were loudly booed in the fourth quarter of their fifth straight loss. After blowing a 21-point lead Friday in Minnesota, when they were on the wrong end of Kevin Love’s 31-point, 31-rebound performance, they missed their first eight shots in the final period to turn this game into a rout.
New York (3-7) starts a four-game trip out West on Tuesday in Denver, at risk of extending its recent holiday tradition of being hopelessly behind by Thanksgiving.
Ish Smith’s jumper at the buzzer gave Houston an 84-75 lead after three, and the boos were out when Martin was all alone for a fast-break layup after a Knicks miss to open the scoring in the fourth.
Lee’s 3-pointer pushed it to 89-75, and the Rockets were rolling. Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari each managed a free throw before Scola’s jumper started a run of nine straight points that put it away at 96-77 midway through the period before the Knicks finally ended their drought on Landry Fields’ follow dunk with 5:39 remaining.
The Rockets knew the early season could be a struggle as they figured the best way to use Yao, who is on a minutes restriction after returning from a year off with a foot injury. Things seemed to get even worse when Brooks, then Yao, went down with their sprained left ankles, but Houston is as accustomed as any team to having to get by without key parts.
Stoudemire scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter as the Knicks took a 27-26 lead. The Rockets controlled the second, getting 10 points from Martin en route to a 58-52 halftime lead.
Notes: Former lottery pick Jordan Hill, traded by the Knicks to the Rockets in a cap-clearing move as part of the Tracy McGrady deal, raced by the Knicks for two fast-break dunks in the second quarter. … The Rockets were without reserve Chase Budinger, who sprained his left ankle Friday in a victory at Indiana. … Knicks F/C Ronny Turiaf missed his third straight game with a sprained left knee. Coach Mike D’Antoni hopes he can return Tuesday, and it’s possible he could start when he does. … Knicks reserve guard Roger Mason Jr. played for just the second time in the last seven games.
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