Published March 13, 2010
HOUSTON (AP) — Luis Scola scored a career-high 44 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and the Houston Rockets beat the New Jersey Nets 116-108 on Saturday night to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
Scola hit 20 of 25 shots, many of them open layups, and reached the highest point total by a Rocket this season. Kevin Martin scored 20, Aaron Brooks added 18 points and seven assists and Houston strung together consecutive victories for the first time since early February.
Courtney Lee scored 24 and Brook Lopez added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who finished a five-game road trip with four straight losses.
The Rockets began the day in 10th place in the Western Conference, 5½ games out of the final playoff spot.
Scola seemed to sneak inside for layups all night, and finished off the Nets with a straight-on jumper that put Houston up 103-93 with just over four minutes left. Scola hit 6 of 8 shots and scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and got chest bumps from Brooks and forward Chuck Hayes after the final buzzer sounded.
The 7-foot Lopez scored 10 of New Jersey's first 15 points and drew two quick fouls on Hayes, who was giving up six inches trying to guard him.
The Rockets hit eight of their first 10 shots, then missed five in a row, and the Nets took an eight-point lead. Houston mounted a 17-5 run to pull ahead, and the teams traded the lead 11 times for the rest of the half.
New Jersey shot 63 percent in the first half and led 55-54 at the break.
Scola had 16 in the opening half, then scored the first four baskets of the third quarter, all layups, to give the Rockets their biggest lead to that point.
The Nets continued to shoot well, and Scola just beat the quarter buzzer with a layup to put Houston up 82-78. The basket gave Scola 32 points, eclipsing his previous career high (30), set against San Antonio on Feb. 26.
Houston led 89-85 when Trevor Ariza sank his first 3-pointer of the game and Scola flipped in a hook to stretch the lead to nine. Ariza made his first start since missing seven games with a hip pointer.
NOTES: The Rockets have won eight straight meetings with New Jersey. ... Brooks sank a 3-pointer late in the first half, tying a franchise record by hitting a 3 for the 37th consecutive game. Brooks' streak of games with a 3-pointer is the longest active one in the NBA. ... Scola has five straight double-doubles and 26 this season. ... Devin Harris picked up his 500th career steal in the first half. ... Harris scored 19 and Jarvis Hayes added 16 off the bench for New Jersey.