The Rockets are still searching for answers.
The team has failed to live up to early season expectations. They have also been trying to figure out who will step up for the injured Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks.
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The Rockets may have lost 99-89 on the road Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, but there were a couple of positives in the losing effort.
Both Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger played extremely well coming off the bench.
The young duo provided quite the spark early in the game and helped the Rockets jump out to a 52-45 lead at the half.
Budinger came into the night shooting just 18 percent from behind the arc, but was able to connect on 3 three-pointers in the first half. His early season struggles have been especially disappointing to a team that has been plagued by injuries.
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Jordan Hill added eight points and four rebounds in the first half. He showed explosiveness in the low post and was able to get to the line. Hill also showed off some post moves against Gerald Wallace at various points throughout the game and had good touch around the rim.
Hill’s most impressive play came midway through the fourth quarter when he threw down a thunderous spinning dunk under the basket. Hill’s field goal cut the Rockets deficit to four at 82-78, but that was as close as the Rockets would get the rest of the way.
The Bobcats went on an 11-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Budinger finished the night with 19 points eight rebounds and four assists and Hill had 14 points and four rebounds.
Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace helped the Bobcats secure the victory. Diaw had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Wallace finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.
Things I Noticed
- Until both Brooks and Yao return this team’s success will likely hinge on the play of Scola and Martin. The emergence of Budinger and Hill is helpful but they will need the veterans Scola and Martin to contribute as well. Both players had poor performances and were too inconsistent. Scola was just 3-for-8 from the free throw line and Kevin Martin was just 6-for-17 from the field.
- The Rockets slowed down to start the second half. They were unable to sustain their fast paced offense that benefited them in the first half. The Bobcats started the third quarter by going on a 10 – 0 run.
- Chuck Hayes continues to show his value. He has never been the most talented player but he may be the Rockets best rebounder aside from Scola. Hayes finished the night with 10 rebounds and now has 25 rebounds over the last three games.
- Battier is NO threat on offense. He has never been a scorer, but at one point in his career he was able to hit an open three-pointer when it mattered. Against the Bobcats he missed two open three-point jump shots and a lay-up late in the game. Had he made those shots the Rockets would have had a chance down the stretch.