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Recap: Nets , Rockets
Date: February 26, 2011 8:30 PM EDT
  

HOUSTON (AP) - Mimicking the post-game routine of the man he replaced in the starting lineup, Chase Budinger put on a buttoned-down shirt, sat at his locker and plunged his bare feet into tubs of ice water after Saturday's win over New Jersey.

Budinger scored 27 points and Houston beat Deron Williams and the Nets 123-108 in the Rockets' first game since trading away Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks.

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Budinger moved into Battier's starting role and went 8 for 11 from the field, including three 3-pointers.

Kevin Martin scored 30 and Luis Scola added 23 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who've won nine straight meetings with New Jersey. But Budinger said the Rockets were still thinking about the losses of Battier and Brooks, two of the most respected leaders in the locker room.

``It definitely felt weird,' Budinger said. ``The weirdest was during warmup lines, not seeing Shane out there. Shane would always go get the balls and throw football passes to us. Just having him not out there like that, it's kind of sad.'

Williams had 15 points and a season-high 17 assists for the Nets, who have lost five in a row and eight of 10. New Jersey acquired Williams in a stunning trade with Utah this week, giving up point guard Devin Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash.

Williams says he's still bothered by a sprained tendon in his right wrist, and strapped on a brace as he chatted with reporters after the game.

``It's going to continue to be sore,' said Williams, who went 3 for 12 from the field. ``Just got to play through it, and be on the floor with the guys. That's really what it's about, trying to develop some sort of chemistry and get a feel for the offense.'

Goran Dragic had six points and an assist in his first game for the Rockets, who dealt Battier to Memphis and Brooks to Phoenix just before Thursday's deadline.

``It was my first game, and I think the second game is going to be a lot better,' said Dragic, who went 2 for 6 from the field and also had two steals. ``I just need a little bit of time to learn the plays and to know the players, and how they are playing on our team.'

Hasheem Thabeet, who came to Houston in the Battier trade, made his debut with 2:02 left and picked up two fouls without scoring.

Williams had assists on New Jersey's first four baskets, then flipped in a layup to give the Nets an early lead. He had 14 points and 12 assists in his debut, a 106-96 loss to San Antonio on Friday night, and said he felt ``a little more comfortable' in his second game.

``It's just a different language here than it was in Utah,' Williams said. ``I'm still trying to learn the calls and coverages and the things like that.'

Both teams were shooting over 60 percent with 5 minutes left in the fast-paced opening quarter. Scola, who scored a career-high 44 against New Jersey last March, hit his first five shots and put Houston up 25-22 with a reverse layup.

Dragic, acquired in the Brooks trade, entered in the last minute of the first quarter. Jordan Farmar ran by Dragic for a layup, but landed awkwardly and sprained his left ankle. He came out at the next whistle and did not return.

Dragic and Williams guarded each other in the second quarter, and Dragic turned a steal into a breakaway layup to give Houston a 42-33 lead. Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw sank 3-pointers to help New Jersey close the gap.

Budinger then finished an alley-oop with a dunk and swished a straight-on 3-pointer in the last two minutes of the half. Budinger finished 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

The Rockets led 71-58 at the break, setting a season-high point total for a half. Houston stayed comfortably ahead in the second half and led by as many as 21.

Williams had five rebounds, but also coughed up four turnovers and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Brook Lopez had 21 points and Kris Humphries had 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets.

Notes: Williams has 28 double-doubles this season. ... The Rockets have scored at least 60 points in a half in 23 games this season. ... Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov did not attend Saturday's game after watching Williams' debut in San Antonio. Nets coach Avery Johnson said he met with Prokhorov after Friday's game, and chatted about Williams and the Russian billionaire's recent skiing vacation in Canada. ``He's excited,' Johnson said. ``As much fun as he had heli-skiing, he was glad to be out of 30-below weather and into some sunshine in Texas. This was a bold move, and he has his hands all over it.' ... Martin has topped 30 points in 14 games this season. ... Houston's 33 assists were a season high.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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