Game 3: Mavs at Rockets

Game 32: Mavs vs. Rockets

Highlights: Mavs vs. Rockets

Check out all the top plays from Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets.

Game 23: Mavs at Rockets

Highlights: Mavs vs. Rockets

Check out all the top plays from Saturday night's game against the Houston Rockets.

The Fast Break: Mavs at Rockets

Final: Rockets 93, Mavs 92

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Despite shooting only 42.9 percent from the field in the second quarter, the Mavs scored 1.167 points per possession, well above the league average, which usually floats around 1.02. The key? Dallas took 12 free throw attempts and collected five offensive rebounds, giving the club not only extra looks at the basket, but also unguarded attempts from the charity stripe. During that quarter, James Harden picked up his third foul, as well.

The Mavs’ defense got better by the quarter. After allowing 1.417 PPP in the first frame, Dallas allowed 1.160 in the second, 0.773 in the third, and 0.619 in the fourth. The Rockets scored only 13 points in the fourth. That’s a vastly improved performance over Dallas’ showing Friday night. If there’s a positive to take away from this one, it’s that the defense dialed it up when it had to.

Notebook

  • This is hopefully the end to what has truly been a bizarre first three games of the season for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki missed both legs of the home-and-home against Houston, which certainly affected not only the Mavs’ preparation for the game, but also their execution on the court. Nowitzki is still a huge piece of this offense; his impact on opponents’ spacing alone is enough to swing another few points the Mavs’ way on any given night. Two of the first three games coming against the same team is also a strange occurrence. Dallas’ next opponent is the Jazz, who are suffering from injury woes. With two full days in between games, the Mavs should hopefully get Nowitzki back in time to take the full starting five to Utah.

  • Wesley Matthews had an enormous third quarter in this game, scoring 10 of his 25 points. It was good to see Matthews have such a loud frame after difficult shooting performances in each of his first two appearances this season, though his final stat line might not suggest it. It also brought the Mavs back into the game, having trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but the closed in to as little as one in the third. He also played straight-up unreal defense on James Harden in the fourth quarter and hit a trey to tie with 4.1 seconds left.

  • J.J. Barea and Deron Williams both faced minor injury scares to varying degrees in the second quarter. Williams took a hard foul on an inbound pass and briefly left the game, appearing to favor his right knee. After trainer Casey Smith checked it out on the bench, Williams put a sleeve on his right knee and returned to the game, immediately driving the lane and drawing another foul. Barea, meanwhile, took a fall on a fast break moments later and appeared to tweak his left knee, but despite a few grimaces here and there, he seemed to rebound just fine, connecting on both free throws after the foul and hitting a 3-pointer in the same quarter. With Devin Harris out for at least another couple weeks, the Mavs obviously are keeping a close eye on the rest of the guards’ health, hoping things can remain normal until Harris eventually returns. Elsewhere in the backcourt, Seth Curry got the start at 2-guard with Dirk Nowitzki out.

  • Nowitzki missed his second consecutive game due to illness. The Big German participated in shootaround and went through his usual pregame routine, but apparently didn’t feel well enough to play. The Mavs are understandably being cautious with their 38-year-old star, but at this point there is no reason to believe he’ll be unavailable to play in Utah, given he traveled with the team and had been listed to start the game until literally the last possible second. Stay tuned for updates regardless.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (0-3) play the Utah Jazz (1-2) at Energy Solutions Arena on Sunday at 8 p.m. Central.

  • Game 3: Mavs at Rockets

    Highlights: Mavs vs. Rockets

    Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks with 25 points followed by J.J. Barea with 18 but it wasn’t enough as the Mavs fall to the Rockets 93-92.

    The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Rockets

    Final: Rockets 106, Mavs 98

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    How much room for growth is there in Harrison Barnes’ game? Based on his touches alone, a ton. He’s taken at least 14 shots in both games so far this season. In his four years with the Golden State Warriors, Barnes took at least 14 shots in back-to-back games just one time. He’s already enjoying an unprecedented level of involvement, and that single stat alone is enough to show that it’s impossible to predict what a player will do with an expanded role. For now, let’s just enjoy Barnes’ nice start and see how far he can take it.

    The Mavericks shot just 36.8 percent from the field in the second quarter despite scoring 26 points, which proved the value of getting to the free throw line. The Mavs shot 12 free throws in the second frame, so despite the poor shooting, Dallas was still able to generate 1.000 points per possession, a solid rate given the shooting percentage. So much more factors into offensive efficiency than simply making shots: Free throws, turnovers, and offensive rebounds also matter just as much, if not more.

    Notebook

  • It’s difficult to take too much away from tonight’s game because the Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki, who missed the game with a stomach illness. The hope is that he’ll be able to play in Sunday’s rematch in Houston. The Mavericks had a very strong offensive showing against the Pacers in the season opener, and of course the German’s presence in the lineup had a lot to do with that. Dallas worked mainly through Harrison Barnes in Nowitzki’s stead.

  • J.J. Barea started in his place, and from the opening tip he led the Mavs’ offensive efforts, driving the ball into the paint a team-high eight times in the first quarter alone. That was a common theme throughout the evening, as the Mavs looked to go right at the vulnerable Rockets perimeter defense and take the fight to them. Wesley Matthews, for one, drove the ball into the paint five times in the first quarter and 11 times for the game. Matthews has looked much quicker this season than he did last, now more than one year removed from Achilles surgery. His added burst will pay huge dividends for this team, as Dallas wants to create as much dribble penetration from as many different angles as possible. Matthews, Barea, and Deron Williams will be relied upon more than any other players to create that downhill attack.

  • Harrison Barnes got off to a huge start in this game, scoring 12 first-quarter points on eight attempts from the field. After his nice Mavs debut on Wednesday, in which he scored 19 points and hit a late, game-tying triple to send the game to overtime, it was good to see Barnes continue his strong start as a Maverick and put together another nice performance, finishing with a career-high 31 points on 13-of-23 shooting. He played plenty of power forward in his debut, but tonight, without Nowitzki, Barnes was almost exclusively used at the 4 spot, and I think that played a role in him finding his stride early in the game. Combo forwards like Barnes, and some others who have come through Dallas in years past, typically have more success at the 4 because they are quicker and faster than their matchups on most nights, and Barnes is more than capable of exploiting that athletic edge.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (0-2) play the Houston Rockets (1-1) on Sunday, this time at Toyota Center, 7 p.m. Central.

  • Game 2: Mavs vs. Rockets

    Highlights: Mavs vs. Rockets

    Harrison Barnes scored a career-high 31 points in Friday's home opener against Houston.