Game 2: Mavs at Rockets

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HOUSTON — The Dallas Mavericks had very little time to celebrate their 118-109 season-opening victory at home Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks.

That’s because just 48 hours later the Mavericks were right back in action against a formidable foe, facing All-Star big man Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets in the Dallas team’s first road contest of the season. The Mavs also began a daunting month of November with the first outing of three consecutive back-to-backs, looking to claim a notch in the win column before returning home to host the Memphis Grizzlies.

Instead, the Mavericks (1-1) would head back up Interstate 45 feeling the sting of their first loss, falling behind early before sliding to a 113-105 defeat at the hands of their in-state rival.

“The truth is it’s a 48-minute game and in the first 12 we got demolished,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the loss. “That can’t happen. Not against this level of competition.”

Looking to negate the Rockets’ size with Howard and 7-foot center Omer Asik lined up alongside each other on Houston’s front line, the Mavericks would try to take advantage of two quick fouls on Asik with 11:09 still remaining in the first period. With one of their twin towers on the bench, however, the Rockets would turn to their outside shooting, quickly jumping out to a double-digit advantage in the process.

James Harden’s 12 first-quarter points then powered the Rockets (2-0) into the second period with a 38-22 advantage after the Mavs connected on just 8-of-22 shooting in the opening quarter.

“We’ve got to play better at the start of the game,” Carlisle said. “Our play in the first quarter really put us in such a hole that we could never get back over the hump. Every minute counts in an NBA game, so you fall down double digits in the first quarter and you’re going to be digging out of a hole the entire night. This is too good a team to do that against.”

Still unable to corral the Rockets’ attack in the second stanza, the Mavs would slide deeper into a widening hole while 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and starting 2-guard Monta Ellis struggled to put the ball in the basket.  Jeremy Lin’s reverse layup on the break then forced a timeout by Carlisle with his team down 53-31 and 5:53 left in the half.

But Ellis and Nowitzki would begin to get their team on track from there before entering the halftime intermission, as Ellis cashed in on a flagrant-1 foul on Francisco Garcia with .8 ticks left to trim Dallas’ deficit to 61-50 at the midway mark.

Shooting just 39.6 percent to the Rockets’ 53.5 percent through two quarters, the Mavericks found themselves down entering the break while also losing the rebounding battle, 28-17. Meanwhile, Ellis’ 13 first-half points and Nowitzki’s 10 points kept the visiting Dallas team in the game.

With both teams stagnant early in the third, the Mavs would finally inch within single digits on Ellis’ free throws after drawing Asik’s fourth foul of the night with 9:01 still remaining in the period. Four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion then began to come alive on the offensive end as Nowitzki was forced to sit after also picking up his fourth foul with 7:34 left in the quarter.

Carlisle then began to employ both a zone defense and a hack-a-Howard strategy after the Rockets moved into the penalty with 6:36 remaining in the third, sending Howard to the foul line while stopping the clock.

“Well, we wanted to change the game and we wanted to disrupt the game if we could. They were in too good a rhythm, and so we went to zone and we went to fouling. That stuff is effective to a point, but if a guy stands up there long enough he’s going to eventually make a shot, which is what happened,” Carlisle explained.

The move would work momentarily, however, halted only when Harden swished in a triple from the top of the key to widen the separation on the scoreboard back to 13. Not to be outdone, though, Nowitzki began to lead another furious rally, bringing the Mavs within six before Harden’s three-point play earned the 7-footer his fifth foul with 2:18 in the third.

The Mavs then looked up to an 85-72 deficit entering the final 12 minutes of play.

“I mean, we kept plugging. Obviously, it was a brutal start to the game and we didn’t really get any stops, and then finally we got a little traction there and made it a six-point game,” Nowitzki explained. “You know, I thought the hack-a-Howard broke their rhythm a little bit and the zone junked the game up a little bit, but every time we were right there we just couldn’t find the basket.”

After seeing Asik foul out with 10:03 remaining on the clock, the Mavs would begin to speed up the tempo as Ellis reassumed the scoring responsibilities. But the Mavs couldn’t get over the hump before Harden drew Nowitzki’s sixth and final foul, ending No. 41’s night with an and-one score to make it a 96-83 score in Houston’s favor with 6:11 left.

“At that point we were down 11, 12 or 13, but I felt like with six minutes anything is possible. I would have loved to stick around a couple of more minutes and try to push, but that sixth foul was tough. The fifth one I probably shouldn’t have reached in, but hey, it is what it is. I can’t even remember the last time I fouled out, but it happened. But honestly we didn’t deserve to win tonight,” Nowitzki later confessed.

Carlisle then pulled his main contributors with 4:22 left in preparation for Saturday night’s showdown against the Grizzlies, while a late 3-point assault by second-year standout Jae Crowder made the final score respectable.

Playing 29 minutes before fouling out, Nowitzki finished with 22 points on 6-of-15 shooting while grabbing four rebounds in the loss.

Ellis added 20 points on 7-of-19 from the floor, while Crowder came on late to score 15 points on 5-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc. Reserve big man DeJuan Blair recorded a double-double off the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie backup point guard Gal Mekel was the only other Mav in double figures with 11 points.

Hitting 11-of-17 from the field and 4-of-8 from the 3-point line, Harden led five Rockets in double figures with 34 points. Howard added 13 points and 16 rebounds inside as the Rockets outshot the Mavs, 46.6 percent to 38 percent, in addition to a 51-43 rebounding advantage.

The Mavs did force the Rockets into 23 turnovers, converting the giveaways into 18 points at the other end. Meanwhile, the Dallas team committed just 14 turnovers, which led to 18 points for the Rockets.

“You shoot 38 percent on the road and it’s tough to win the game,” Nowitzki concluded. “You know, I felt like we had some good looks when we needed them, and we were right there and just couldn’t get over the hump.”

“Regardless of if your offense is clicking on all cylinders your defense should be there. That should be your stronghold of what you’ve got going,” Marion added. “They were getting second-chance points and the initial defense was good. We couldn’t stop them from getting second-chance points for a minute there, and that’s what was killing us.”

Note: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs will now return to American Airlines Center to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting


All Stats

S. Marion, F 25 3-9 0-0 1-2 5 5 10 0 2 1 1 2 -16 7
D. Nowitzki, F 29 6-15 0-2 10-11 2 2 4 2 0 0 1 6 3 22
S. Dalembert, C 22 3-5 0-0 0-1 1 4 5 0 1 1 1 5 -3 6
M. Ellis, G 32 7-19 1-4 5-6 0 4 4 1 3 0 5 4 -6 20
J. Calderon, G 25 0-8 0-3 0-0 0 1 1 6 1 0 1 2 -5 0
D. Blair 17 5-11 0-1 1-2 5 5 10 0 2 2 2 5 -15 11
V. Carter 26 2-8 0-3 2-2 2 3 5 1 0 1 1 3 -4 6
G. Mekel 22 5-7 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 6 0 0 1 4 -3 11
W. Ellington 15 1-7 1-4 1-1 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 1 -2 4
B. James 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 6 0
J. Crowder 12 5-8 5-7 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 3 -2 15
R. Ledo 4 1-3 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 7 3
D. Harris 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Larkin 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B. Wright 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   38-100 9-27 20-25 16 27 43 20 9 7 14 37   105
    38.0% 33.3%                      

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All Stats

C. Parsons, F 35 3-8 0-5 3-6 2 5 7 2 1 0 3 1 6 9
D. Howard, F 31 4-10 0-0 5-12 5 11 16 0 1 1 3 4 4 13
O. Asik, C 15 2-4 0-0 2-4 1 11 12 0 0 0 2 6 12 6
J. Harden, G 39 11-17 4-8 8-9 1 3 4 3 4 0 4 2 20 34
J. Lin, G 29 4-9 0-3 6-7 0 3 3 4 3 0 6 1 14 14
O. Casspi 21 4-8 3-3 1-2 1 1 2 2 1 0 1 3 17 12
A. Brooks 22 3-8 2-5 5-5 1 1 2 2 0 0 1 0 -9 13
F. Garcia 24 3-6 2-5 0-0 1 1 2 3 1 3 1 2 18 8
R. Brewer 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 -15 0
T. Jones 3 0-1 0-0 3-4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 -9 3
G. Smith 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 -9 0
D. Motiejunas 3 0-1 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -9 1
P. Beverley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
I. Canaan 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R. Covington 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   34-73 11-29 34-51 13 38 51 17 11 4 22 20   113
    46.6% 37.9%                      

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HOUSTON — Although the Houston Rockets generated a lot of buzz when coach Kevin McHale made the decision to begin starting All-Star big man Dwight Howard alongside 7-foot center Omer Asik, it’s not the only front line of its kind.

Taking the court for the Dallas Mavericks when they square off with the Rockets (1-0) Friday night will be an equally tall-standing front line as 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki and center Samuel Dalembert try to match strength with Houston’s big-bodied lineup. And although he admits that his team will face a great challenge against the Rockets’ presence in the post, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is more concerned with Houston’s ability to also go small while featuring a multitude of lineups.

“I don’t think it’s anything that’s that new, but this is an extreme case when you start two 7-foot guys and then you have the ability to go small,” Carlisle said after his team prepared for the Rockets during a Friday morning walkthrough. “But we do the same thing. You know, we start Nowitzki, who is 7-1, and Dalembert is 7-1. And then we go to smaller lineups, too. I would think if you go down most rosters and looked at rotations that more teams are doing this kind of thing than aren’t.

“They’re going to be good no matter who they put out there. … They’re going to give you both, which is smart on their part, and we’re just going to have to play well to give ourselves a chance.”

Much like the preseason when the two teams squared off in a 100-95 Dallas loss on Oct. 21, the Mavs will also see point guard Jeremy Lin in the first unit after it was determined that Patrick Beverley will be out at least 10-14 days due to a partially-torn muscle in his midsection.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks (1-0) will try to carry over their offensive success from a 118-109 season-opening win over Atlanta, looking to once again share the wealth after dishing out 31 assists as a team in the victory.

Note: The Mavericks return to action Friday night on the road against the Houston Rockets. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the team returns to American Airlines Center to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting

HOUSTON — After holding off the Atlanta Hawks and seizing a 118-109 season-opening win Wednesday night, things don’t get any easier for the Dallas Mavericks as they begin the month of November with three straight back-to-backs.

Looking to build off their victory at home to open the season despite surrendering 20 turnovers, the Mavericks (1-0) will now head into an opposing team’s gym for the first time, traveling down Interstate 45 Friday night for a Southwest Division showdown against the Houston Rockets. And before returning home to match up against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Mavs will try to ground the Rockets’ (1-0) high-octane attack led by All-Stars James Harden and new addition Dwight Howard.

“Hey, it’s one win down. We’re happy to get it, but it’s a bunch of hard ones coming up and we’ve got to be ready for them,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said coming out of his team’s first outing.

He added: “We have three consecutive back-to-backs coming up, and when you get in those situations manpower and efficiency are really, really important. So we’re going to need everybody and we’re going to have to turn it over less, because 20 is too many.”

Despite surrendering 26 points off those 20 giveaways, the Mavs walked off their home court victoriously after outshooting the Hawks, 57.1 percent to 48.7 percent, led by newcomer Monta Ellis’ 32-point Dallas debut on 11-of-17 shooting. Perhaps more importantly, the Dallas team finished the night with a 42-33 rebounding advantage, which is something that will have to carry over to Friday night after Howard debuted with 17 points and a career-high tying 26 rebounds in the Rockets’ 96-83 home win Wednesday over Charlotte.

And with Howard playing alongside 7-foot center Omer Asik inside, the Mavs know that they will have to hold their own on the glass if they are to move to 2-0 to start the season for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

“Look, I’m really happy we had a good rebounding night, but Houston is going to be a lot different animal than Atlanta,” Carlisle confessed. “They’re starting two 7-footers out there, and so it’s going to be two things: we’re going to have to put bodies on those guys and pursue the ball. Atlanta is a very active team, but they didn’t have the same kind of length as Houston. (Against Atlanta) there were some good signs, but it’s going to be a heightened challenge.”

“You know, I saw Howard obviously had 26 (rebounds) and Asik is a beast, and so we’ve got to do a good job on the glass,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added. “You know, if you want to win big road games, we can’t turn the ball over like that. I think we know that. We did some mistakes, but it’s good to know that our offense and our shooting ability can bail us out on a night  when defensively we weren’t great, turnovers were too high, and we still found a way to win. I don’t want to overrate this win, but it’s a good win to start off this season and we’ll keep moving.”

Note: The Mavericks return to action Friday night on the road against the Houston Rockets. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the team returns to American Airlines Center to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting