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.
Jeremy Lin was a complete non-factor against the Dallas Mavericks, and that fact was evident when he played just six minutes in the entire first half.
In those six minutes of play, Lin made his only shot—a three-pointer from the corner—and recorded only four points. He didn’t play horribly by any means, but the team’s big comeback came with him on the bench, so that’s where he stayed.
Lin finished the game with seven points and three assists on 2-of-4 shooting. He played just 18 minutes.
In Lin’s defense, he was never given the time to prove he could come out and make a difference, which is why he doesn’t deserve a failing grade. The problem is, he wasn’t given that chance for a reason. His shot has been awful this year, and that’s something he has to improve if he’s going to make an impact moving forward.
James Harden had an attack mentality early against Dallas. His willingness to put his head down and drive is what earned him free throws and looks at the rim, but it’s also what caused an ankle injury with just under three minutes left in the opening period.
Needless to say, the injury wasn’t too serious, as he stayed in the game and scored 11 of the team’s 17 first-quarter points.
Houston’s second-quarter comeback was sparked largely by Harden’s play. In true Harden fashion, he was absolutely deadly from behind the arc, but his overall game was as good as anybody’s in the league. He had an unreal 30 points, five rebounds and five assists at halftime.
Harden’s shot from downtown is a big reason he finished with 39 points, but a bigger reason is that he went to the free-throw line 16 times. He completed 15 of those 16 shots, and he proved yet again why he is one of the most dangerous scorers in the league.
The 23-year-old finished the game with 39 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Chandler Parsons came into this matchup following a horrible performance against the San Antonio Spurs. He scored just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 0-of-4 from the three-point line in that contest.
Saturday night proved to be much better for the Rockets forward, as he recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The reason for the turnaround had a lot to do with his aggressiveness. He eclipsed his point total from the night before by halftime, and he was scoring at the rim when he put his head down and drove into the paint. Unfortunately for him and his team, he was just 1-of-6 from downtown.
Defensively, Parsons was given the assignment of O.J. Mayo for much of this game. The Dallas Mavericks shooting guard was able to score 22 points in the first half, as Parsons clearly had trouble containing him in both fast-break and half-court situations.
This game was all about James Harden for the Houston Rockets, which meant Patrick Patterson became an afterthought by the time the clock struck zero.
The 6’9” power forward only took two shots in the first half, and when Harden was unleashing his superpowers during their big run, it hardly seemed as if the big man touched the ball.
The second half would prove to be a better one for Patterson, as he began to pick up the slack a bit when the perimeter players lost their momentum. He finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds while shooting 6-of-8 from the floor.
Unfortunately for Patterson, what he’ll be most remembered for in this one is the monster jam that Dahntay Jones had on him in the third quarter. Watch out for that poster to be in stores soon.
Omer Asik was challenged defensively from the opening possession of this game. Chris Kaman has the ability to spread the floor with his jump shot, and he took full advantage of a defender who would much rather stay down low to collect rebounds and block shots.
Kaman ended up finishing the game with 20 points, which is an indication as to how Asik played against him on the defensive side of the floor.
Offensively, Asik was quiet. He finished with only six points, and while you don’t expect a huge scoring output from him, you’d like to see him clean up down low and earn a few more cheap points per game.
Houston can live without Asik scoring, but where they need him to perform is on the glass. The big man pulled down seven rebounds, which is nearly five fewer than his season average.
Toney Douglas may not have started this game for the Houston Rockets, but he made his presence felt late in the game, as he was in the contest making big shots all the way down to the wire.
The backup point guard played 35 minutes in this one, and he had a huge three-pointer to keep the Rockets’ hopes alive in the fourth quarter. The shot couldn’t propel the team to victory, but it showed that his value is undeniable when Jeremy Lin is on the bench.
Douglas was willing to attack the basket, which was one of the big differences between him and fellow reserve Carlos Delfino. He only shot three free throws against Dallas, but he was moving around the court and getting shots from different areas on the floor.
The 26-year-old finished the game with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-6 from behind the three-point line.
The Houston Rockets bench played well in their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks—that is if you only look at the stat lines of Carlos Delfino and Toney Douglas.
Delfino was able to score 10 points, and he did have a couple of timely three-pointers, but his inefficient play wasn’t what you want to see. He shot just 3-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-10 from long range.
However, the biggest problem is that nobody else even made a dent in the game for Houston. They played two other players—Cole Aldrich and Greg Smith—but the both of them combined for four points. Aldrich and Smith managed to combine for seven fouls in just 14 minutes of play, and neither of them had any sort of true impact on the final result of the game.
When evaluating a team’s second unit, you can’t just look at two players. That being said, you can’t ignore what went well, so it all evened out in the end.