The Houston Rockets played host to the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night, but home-court advantage didn’t prove to be enough to take down their in-state rival. Heading into this contest, five of the last six meetings between these two teams had been decided by seven points or less. That trend would continue, as Houston fell 116-109.
The Mavericks were the first ones to gain momentum: They were hitting jumpers, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of sloppy play by Houston. Simply put, they turned defense into offense, and they jumped out to a double-digit lead just half way through the first quarter.
At one point early on, Houston went five minutes without making a shot, which is a big reason they trailed 39-24 at the end of the first. The other reason, however, is that they allowed the Mavericks to post the most first-quarter points they’ve scored all season.
Dallas may have played well in the first quarter, but Houston came out and played even better in the second. Their three-point shooting was on the mark, but an energized defense proved to be the big difference. They cut the lead to just three about six minutes in, and they outscored Dallas 42-24 by the time the second period came to an end.
The third quarter proved to be the first competitive stretch of the entire game. Houston outscored Dallas 23-21, as it was a drastically different battle than the first 24 minutes. They took a five-point lead into the final quarter, but Dallas wasn’t going away just yet.
A 13-2 run from the Mavericks gave them a two-point lead with just three-and-a-half minutes left in the game. O.J. Mayo was the first player to catch fire in this matchup, and luckily for Dallas, he would be the last one to find his sweet spot. He finished the game with 40 points, and he almost single-handedly led the team to a seven-point victory.