Kyle Lowry and the Rockets put up a snoozer on Tuesday night in their loss at Memphis.
WHO: Memphis 93, Houston 83.
WHAT: The Rockets currently sit 7th in the West at 16-13 overall. However, they’re also two games back of 4th. Either way, they just split a six-game road trip and are now 6-10 away from Toyota Center.
WHAT HAPPENED?: Simply put, the Rockets couldn’t hit anything and the Grizzlies could. Houston shot 38.5 percent from the field, while Memphis shot 47.9 percent. Everything else was relatively equal, aside from the Rockets’ lethargic effort opposed to the home team’s inspired outlook. Minutes from halftime, Houston’s starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin had missed all five of its field goal attempts and had not scored a single point. That’s about all you need to know about this one. Lowry helped lead a late rally when Houston climbed back within five and ended up with 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but it wasn’t enough. Martin was manhandled by Grizzlies defensive stalwart Tony Allen, who said after the game it was his mission to quiet Martin after the latter had had superior nights against Memphis in his career (25.8 points per game against the Grizzlies). But Martin’s situation is becoming a consistent thing …
MARTIN STRUGGLES. AGAIN: Martin, however, again put up a lousy performance. He played just 13 minutes and did not score, missing all three of his field goal attempts. The Rockets’ top perimeter scorer and shooter has scored just 44 points in the last six games. There is something brewing here. He said after the game that he feels like he’s on a “10-day contract leash” with how he got benched Monday after his poor start. He knows he’s in a shooting slump, and coach Kevin McHale, appropriately enough, said Martin will play more when he plays better. Martin seems willing to not force things when shots aren’t falling, but he has to realize that if he’s not scoring, he’s not helping. Hence, bench time. He averaged just a bit over seven points on 26 percent shooting on the Rockets’ recently completed six-game road stand. It was his first scoreless game since April 9, 2006.
OFFENSIVE BALANCE: Here’s the weird thing about the Rockets this season: If Martin’s not hitting, it seems Lowry starts taking it upon himself to take over offensively. In reality, that should be Luis Scola, who is having a really poor season. It doesn’t show in the numbers (Scola averages 13 field goal attempts to Lowry’s 11), but I’m going with the eye test on this one. Scola needs to be a much bigger part of the offense, especially considering he’s much like Martin in that he isn’t helping when he’s not scoring/shooting. For example, Scola attempted just one free throw in 32 minutes on Tuesday. That is ridiculous when you’re the starting power forward. But even so, he only took 10 shots to Lowry’s 16. This may have something to do with Martin’s poor efforts of late. You once had to be concerned about Scola offensively, but he’s looked nothing the same as in years past, and teams aren’t concerned with Lowry burning them throughout an entire game. I’m fine with Lowry taking over late in games since he’s the lone Rocket, aside from Goran Dragic, who can create his own shot, but he’ll make things a lot easier on himself if he focuses on getting Scola going early.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?: Well, nothing good. Houston went 3-3 on its six-game road trip, ending with an embarrassing loss to a team that had lost four of its last six games, and plays the West’s top beast Oklahoma City tonight in Houston. It could get pretty dicey. The Rockets are currently 16-13, but after OKC, they host Minnesota and Utah. Martin, in my eyes, is a serious concern, and one capable of becoming a big enough distraction that ruins the season. In my opinion, his body language has been horrible since news of the potential trade that would have brought Pau Gasol to Houston and sent him to New Orleans, and it seems like he just doesn’t care. He just does not want to be here anymore. He hardly attacks as much as he used to and he’s settling more and more for long jumpers. I think we’ll see McHale pull the trigger on Martin sooner in games if he doesn’t start picking it up, which is good because I’m in favor of more time for Courtney Lee.