Final: Rockets 100, Mavs 96
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
In the first half, James Harden was a huge catalyst of the Houston offense despite himself struggling from the field. He was so effective because he was able to get the ball into the lane seemingly at will, especially in the second quarter. The Rockets scored 1.37 points per possession in the first half when the ball got into the lane in 27 tries. Harden was able to get into the paint and kick it out to a shooter or dump it off to a big man, resulting to 6 assists at the break for the bearded 2-guard. Meanwhile, Houston was only able to score just 0.95 points per possession in 21 trips down the floor when the ball didn’t enter the paint. This is no secret: If, as a defense, you can keep the offense out of the lane, you’re more often than not going to get a stop.
Deron Williams has now hit four three-pointers in three consecutive home games. He had only six such games last season with the Brooklyn Nets, one of which came in Dallas against the Mavs. There’s something about this building that he just enjoys, it seems.
The Mavs brought Chandler Parsons off the bench in this game for the first time since he played only the second half earlier this season. His number was immediately called as he delivered a nice bounce pass to Zaza Pachulia out of a pick-and-roll set to give the big man a layup, which he unfortunately missed. Parsons hit a three-pointer the next time down the floor and then a layup the play after, demonstrating that he can perform fairly well in that “instant offense” role off the bench. Mavs fans are all too familiar with what gunners can bring in a backup situation, having watched players like Jason Terry, Nick Van Exel, and Vince Carter over the years. Parsons’ insertion coincided with a 14-0 Mavs run — his play appeared to light a fire under the Mavericks and it certainly swung the game in the club’s favor. Whether this is something that will continue to happen remains to be seen, and Rick Carlisle definitely isn’t going to be the guy to reveal his future plans, so we’ll have to see on Sunday what happens with Parsons, Carlisle, and the rotation plans.
It’s interesting to see what a team does to respond to a bit of a cold spell. In the second quarter the Mavericks were struggling to find consistent offense, as missed shots and turnovers bogged down what to that been had been a pretty good offensive showing early on. Houston opened up a double-digit lead in the process, putting even more pressure on Dallas to figure out how to make something work, and do it fast. The team’s response, as it usually has been for the last decade, was to turn to Dirk Nowitzki. They went to him in the post four plays in a row and it resulted in 6 points. A few plays later he’d hit a one-legged fade over James Harden. Nowitzki did face some double-teams during that stretch, but he was able to find the right man in the right spot, including to Dwight Powell underneath the rim for a dunk. He’s as reliable a post player as there’s been since Shaquille O’Neal was dominating on a nightly basis. Funny enough, Shaq is the next guy Dirk will pass on the all-time scoring list — and it’ll happen soon.
Harden had a rough first half, scoring 7 points on just 3-of-12 shooting from the field. What’s more shocking is he didn’t shoot a single free throw in the first two quarters, stunning considering he averaged 11.8 attempts per game from the charity stripe this season. In fact, heading into the evening he’d made more free throws than anyone else in the league had even attempted. Harden’s struggles didn’t seem to bother the rest of the Rockets offense, as Houston shooters were a sizzling 11 of 18 from deep in the opening half, good for 61.1 percent. Three-point shooting comes and goes in this league, however, and we saw that tonight. Houston didn’t hit a single trey in the third quarter.
The Mavs (11-9) play the Washington Wizards (8-9) Sunday at Verizon Center. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. Central.