- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 28, 2010

HOUSTON | It’s a humble milestone, though one the Houston Rockets are glad they finally reached.

Kevin Martin scored 20 points, Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks each added 15 and the Rockets got back to .500 with a 100-93 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday.

Luis Scola had 14 points and Jordan Hill added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets (15-15), who’ve won five in a row and eight straight home games heading into Wednesday’s showdown against Miami.

Houston started the season 3-10 and lost Yao Ming and Brooks to serious ankle injuries along the way. Coach Rick Adelman had started talking about getting the record back to even, and building from there.

Now, finally, the Rockets can focus on bigger things.

“From where we started, we should feel good about our road back to .500,” Martin said. “It’s not actually being at .500, because for the season, we have better goals than that. Our road back to .500, the way everybody is playing, that’s what we should feel relieved about.”

Kirk Hinrich scored 19 points and Andray Blatche had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who dropped to 0-15 on the road this season. Washington has lost 10 of 11 overall.

“When a team does things quickly against us, we seem to have problems,” coach Flip Saunders said. “It’s frustrating. We have to keep this group together and get better as a team.”

Brooks and Martin hit consecutive 3-pointers around the 2-minute mark to put away the stingy Wizards, who led by as many as 10.

Brooks was playing his fourth game since missing the previous 21 with a sprained left ankle. He went 5-for-15 from the field and missed his first four 3-point tries before connecting with 2:21 left to put Houston ahead for good.

“When I saw it, it was time to go up,” Brooks said. “Now or never.”

Washington led 73-68 after three quarters. Nick Young then sank two free throws and Houston native Rashard Lewis hit a jumper from the free throw line in the first minute of the fourth quarter to stretch the lead to nine.

Washington led by seven when Chase Budinger deflected Josh Howard’s shot to Brooks, who flipped an alley-oop pass to Courtney Lee for a layup with 8:16 left.

Brooks was fouled on a 3-point try and sank all three free throws to cut the Wizards‘ lead to two, and Battier swished his second 3-pointer with 6:37 to put Houston ahead 87-86.

The lead traded hands three times over the next three minutes, and Martin landed hard on his right knee when he was fouled by John Wall trying to finish a fast break. Martin calmly sank two free throws with 2:48 left to give Houston a 94-93 lead.

“We have to close out games,” Wall said. “We were right there in it, but like Coach said, when they’re making the run and coming back, we’re always trying to go for the home run instead of just chipping away at time.”

Blatche was whistled for traveling, and Brooks and Martin sealed it with 3-pointers.

The Rockets went 6 for 20 from 3-point range.

Martin scored 10 points in the first seven minutes to help the Rockets build an early lead. The shooting guard converted a three-point play at the start of a 10-2 spurt that put Houston up by nine.

Wall lobbed an alley-oop to Lewis for a dunk as the Wizards mounted their own 10-2 run to cut the lead to one. Wall, playing in his second game since returning from a right knee injury, swished a jumper from the top of the key as Washington took a five-point lead.

Hill scored 11 points off the bench in the second quarter to help pull the Rockets even again.

Notes: The Rockets are 7-1 when scoring 100 points at home this season. … Scola has reached double-figure scoring in 26 consecutive games, a career high. … Wall scored 13 points and dished out six assists for Washington. … Blatche has six double-doubles this season. … Chinese stars Yao Ming (stress fracture in ankle) and Yi Jianlian (right knee sprains) sat on the opposing benches in street clothes. In November 2007, the two played each other for the first time in the NBA at the Toyota Center, when Yi played for Milwaukee. Yao scored 28 points in a 104-88 Houston victory. Yi scored 19 for the Bucks that night.


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