Martin had his best game since being traded to Houston, scoring 33 points to lead the Rockets to a 109-104 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
In his fourth game in Houston, Martin showed he was the scorer the Rockets were looking for when they acquired him and three others last week in the deal that sent Tracy McGrady(notes) to the New York Knicks.
“It’s getting there,” Martin said. “Tonight was just another step forward … Over time, you get better and more comfortable with the team. It’s only four games and I just feel good to be here.”
The Rockets used a 31-point first quarter to build a big lead and were up by double digits for most of the second half before San Antonio’s late run.
“The way we came out and played for 2 1/2 quarters was terrific,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “I’m disappointed with the way we finished the game. We just have to do a better job.”
Scola believed Martin’s play was the key to Houston’s win.
“The guys who have been here before him could finally make him comfortable and can find a way that he likes playing where he feels more effective and we need him scoring,” Scola said. “That’s the truth. So, if he feels comfortable, everything else will be easier for us.”
The Spurs were playing without Tony Parker(notes), who missed the game with a stomach ailment. He started Wednesday against Oklahoma City, but has missed two games recently with injuries and was diagnosed with a mild strain of his left hip flexor Monday.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game that he didn’t have an update on Parker’s health.
Popovich used his bench extensively in the second half after the starters allowed Houston to jump out to the early lead.
“Our second unit did a good job getting us back into the game,” Duncan said. “The guys out on the court were the guys making the run. You don’t penalize them and take them out when the score gets close.”
Martin and Scola were 14 of 14 from the free-throw line to tie a team record for most made in a game without a miss.
The Spurs used a 7-0 run early in the fourth quarter to get within nine, but Houston scored five straight points—four from Martin—to push its lead to 90-76 with nine minutes remaining.
The Rockets led by as many as 23 in the third quarter, but the Spurs cut the lead to 16 points twice. The second time they scored five straight points capped by a 3-pointer by Roger Mason(notes) to trail 85-69 at the end of the third quarter.
Houston got a great first half from Martin, whose 17 points in the first two quarters were just two points shy of his previous game high of 19 in his first three games with the Rockets.
San Antonio went on a 10-2 run to open the second quarter and cut Houston’s lead to 33-24 just under nine minutes before halftime. Houston answered that run by outscoring the Spurs 13-5 over the next three minutes to stretch the lead to 46-29. Martin led the charge in that span, scoring seven points.
Houston led by three before going on a 6-0 run, capped by a reverse layup by Brooks, to push the lead to 17-8 midway through the first quarter. The Rockets outscored San Antonio 14-6, with six points from Martin, in the rest of the quarter to make it 31-14 after one.
“You’ve just got to come out with energy,” Martin said. “Things were clicking for us early and we were being aggressive going to the basket and taking them out of their rhythm.”
NOTES: San Antonio’s 14 first-quarter points tied a season low for the first quarter. … Manu Ginobili(notes) had eight points and a season-high 10 rebounds for San Antonio. … Brooks had one 3-pointer Friday and has made at least one 3 in a career-best 30 straight games.