This one, though, was a bit more special.
Adelman tied Dick Motta for 10th on the NBA’s career victories list, getting his 935th as Chad Budinger scored 20 points and Kyle Lowry(notes) had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in the Rockets’ 123-101 win Monday night.
“It means a lot to me,” said Adelman, who coached in Sacramento for eight years. “If you take a look at all those names up there (on the top-10 list), they are some of the best coaches.”
Among the top 10 in wins, only Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach have better winning percentages than Adelman (.605, 935-609), who is in his 20th season.
“I’ve been fortunate in this league,” said Adelman, who started his NBA coaching career in Portland. “I’ve had three really great opportunities that a lot of guys don’t get. You get good players, talented players and good teams, and the wins are going to rack up.”
Perhaps it was fitting Adelman got the victory in Sacramento, where he enjoyed his longest tenure as a head coach. He went 395-222 with the Kings, who haven’t made the playoffs since Adelman was fired following the 2005-06 season.
“It was a well-deserved win, on a court that (he) built,” said Rockets guard Kevin Martin(notes), who has played for Adelman in both Houston and Sacramento. “I’m happy to be a part of this. We played hard in his honor. He’s in a very special category among coaches.”
Besides being a significant win for Adelman, it was also one for the Rockets (33-32). Houston has won two straight, seven of eight, and moved over the .500 mark for the first time all season in its late push for a playoff berth.
“It was important to get over .500, but it’s even more important to keep playing well,” said Lowry, who matched Budinger with four 3-pointers. “We’re making a push for the playoffs. Every game is important to us now. I don’t think Coach (Adelman) cared about the career mark. I didn’t even know about it. He’s more concerned with us playing well and continuing to win games. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. He’s a player’s coach. If you can’t play for him, you can’t play for anyone.”
DeMarcus Cousins(notes) had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who lost their third straight and fifth in six games. Marcus Thornton(notes) had 16 points, Beno Udrih(notes) added 15, and Francisco Garcia(notes) scored 11.
After a quiet first half, Martin got going in the third quarter when Houston increased its lead to 95-74. Martin made several shots from close range and converted all six free throws in scoring 10 points.
“You’ve got to guard somebody. You can’t give up 30-point quarters every quarter and expect to win,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “Our defense was not good enough really ever to give us a chance to hang around in the game.”
Both Lowry and Budinger scored eight third-quarter points. Lowry’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds left gave Houston a 21-point lead.
“We were good offensively the whole game, and we got better defensively as the game went on,” Adelman said. “Chuck (Hayes) did a nice job on Cousins in the second half. It was a win we had to get.”
It was a difficult second half for Cousins, who dominated the paint offensively in the opening half when he scored 20 points. The rookie center missed all five second-half shots, had zero points, and took a hard fall in the fourth quarter and left the game, although he said the injury was minor.
“We have a tendency to panic and just try to do things on our own,” Cousins said of the Kings’ third-quarter play. “We are not going to get back into the game that way and we’re not going to win games that way. We have to play the whole game together.”
Notes: Scola injured his knee early in the third quarter and didn’t return. … Ex-King Martin drew considerable applause when the Rockets’ starting lineup was announced. He then went out and missed seven of eight first-half shots. Martin averaged 30.5 points in his other two visits to Sacramento since he was traded to Houston on Feb. 8, 2010. … Sacramento has the NBA’s worst home record at 8-24. … Houston’s reserves outscored the Kings’ backups 24-5 in the opening half. Lee was the most productive with nine points.