Reserve Chase Budinger scored a career-high 30 points, including 11 straight in the fourth quarter, and Kevin Martin added 30 more to lead the Houston Rockets to a 124-119 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Budinger and Martin combined to score Houston's final 24 points as the Rockets avoided losing to the NBA's worst team.
The Cavaliers, coming off a shocking upset of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break, were led by Antawn Jamison's 26 points. Ramon Sessions added 20 and 12 assists for Cleveland.
Chuck Hayes had 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who are hoping to gain ground in the Western Conference, which has been shaken up by the blockbuster trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams.
Budinger was an unlikely hero for the Rockets, who opened the season's unofficial second half in 11th place out West. But the 6-foot-7 forward made the most of his 29 minutes, making four 3-pointers and adding eight rebounds.
With Hayes grabbing an arena-record 13 offensive rebounds, Houston dominated the boards, outrebounding Cleveland 57-37.
Budinger's 3 with 6:15 left put the Rockets ahead 107-104, and he capped his personal 11-point run with a layup to make it 111-107. The Cavs went cold from the floor and Martin scored two straight buckets, the second on a layup after Kyle Lowry threw him a long, overhead pass, as the Rockets won their fourth straight road game.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott has been emphasizing defense, but the Cavs showed little resistance, allowing the Rockets to score 61 in the first half and 63 in the second.
With the trading deadline just hours away, players on both teams were wondering if they'll be headed elsewhere for the remainder of this season.
Houston's Shane Battier and Courtney Lee have been mentioned in several rumored deals. A few contending teams have shown interest in Battier, and Lee was thought to be a target of the Chicago Bulls, who want to add another shooting guard.
The Cavs have been busy working the phones to see if they can get better, but the club doesn't seem close to pulling off anything major. General manager Chris Grant would like to acquire young players or draft picks and he'll likely stay at it until Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline.
Cleveland made four 3-pointers and opened an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but the Rockets climbed back with a 14-4 spurt and closed to 65-61 at half on Battier's 3-pointer at the horn.
The 6-foot-6 Hayes was a force inside in the first quarter. He ruled the lane, grabbing 12 rebounds — nine on offense — and set a new arena record for rebounds in a quarter. His nine offensive boards were as many as the Cavs pulled down at both ends.
NOTES: The Cavs played without guards Mo Williams (ankle) and Daniel Gibson. Scott said Gibson was kept out because the team is "letting him deal with some personal things." ... Rockets coach Rick Adelman wasn't surprised but was saddened to hear NBA Commissioner David Stern say the league can no longer help the Sacramento Kings with funding for a new arena. Adelman coached the Kings for eight seasons. "The arena needed to be built a long time ago," he said. "Something has to give. It's unfortunate." ... Scott claims to have over 100 suits, but you'll never see him wearing the same one during the season. He labels his dress clothes, so if he pulls out a suit that says "away," he'll wear it for one home game and then hang it up until the following season.