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Monday, Feb. 28, 2011

Rockets beat Nets as new era begins

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.

News photo
Bull rush: Chicago's Carlos Boozer tries to shoot over Milwaukee's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute during the Bulls' 83-75 win on Saturday. AP PHOTO

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.

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."

Bulls 83, Bucks 75

In Milwaukee, Luol Deng scored 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17 to lead the surging Bulls to victory.

Chicago has won six of seven to improve to 15-4 since Jan. 14, putting pressure on Boston and Miami at the top of the Eastern Conference. Joakim Noah had eight points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls.

Pistons 120, Jazz 116

In Auburn Hills, Mich., Rodney Stuckey scored 28 points and made a crucial steal in the final minute, helping the Pistons bounce back from an embarrassing start to the weekend.

One night earlier, Detroit used only six players in a lopsided loss at Philadelphia after several Pistons missed at least part of the team warm-up. Stuckey and Austin Daye, who arrived late to the warm-up and didn't play Friday, were back on the court against the Jazz.

Grizzlies 120, Kings 92

In Memphis, Zach Randolph had 23 points and 12 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 21 points, and the Grizzlies pulled away in the second half.

Mavericks 105, Wizards 99

In Washington, Jason Terry scored 25 points, Tyson Chandler had a season-high 23 and 13 rebounds and Dallas earned its fifth consecutive victory.

Celtics 99, Clippers 92

In Los Angeles, Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Ray Allen added 22, and the Celtics rallied in the second half for their fourth victory in five games.

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