After the Utah Jazz squandered an eight-point lead in the final three minutes of their game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets had a chance to build a little breathing room for the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
And they certainly seemed in great shape to do just that.
The Dallas Mavericks limped into the contest losers in four of their last five games, including an unnerving 136-103 blowout at the hands of these very same Rockets on Sunday night.
The Rockets, meanwhile, headed to Dallas with a 4-2 mark since the All-Star break. The typically road-weary team was searching for its 14th road win in 33 tries, although it had won three of its past five road games.
Dallas looked like the hungrier team early on, sprinting out to a 34-25 lead after the first quarter. Shawn Marion led the charge with 12 points, as the Mavericks outshot the Rockets 71 to 39 percent in the first 12 minutes.
But Houston's perimeter shots started falling in the second quarter, and a 31-26 edge in that period left the Rockets with just a four-point halftime deficit, after Jeremy Lin's buzzer-beating three to close out the second quarter was waived off due to video review. James Harden had 14 points and Chandler Parsons added 13 before intermission, but the duo needed 21 first-half field-goal attempts to hit those marks.
A back-and-forth third quarter set the stage for an exciting fourth quarter, with the Mavericks clinging to an 87-83 lead after 36 minutes. Although the Rockets battled back for a brief lead on a James Harden three-pointer with less than four minutes to play, they just couldn't find enough answers down the stretch.
The Mavericks scored 10 of the game's final 14 points en route to a 112-108 victory. The loss dropped the Rockets to 33-29 on the year, while the Mavericks improved to 27-33.
Let's take a look at how Houston graded out in this thrilling, but disappointing game.