The score makes it look a lot closer than the game actually was. Despite their sluggish look against the Bobcats, The Rockets came out swinging against the Dallas Mavericks last night. They led by double digits for a vast majority of the game and the Mavericks only came close when both teams decided to pull their starters in the fourth quarter. The Rockets handled the Mavs and looked good doing it.
Injury? What injury? James Harden went completely un-phased by his lower back “tightness” he suffered against the Bobcats. He was absolutely stellar, leading the team with 34 points, 4 steals and 3 assists in 39 minutes of play. Dwight Howard came away with a nicely supportive 13 pts. and was practically assaulted by the Mavs as they employed hack-Howard tactics in the 3rd quarter on. Howard will need to vastly improve upon his free-throw shooting numbers (FTM-A: 5-12) as more and more teams will likely employ this method knowing he is weak at the line. However, both he and Omer Asik stayed true to form defensively combining for a total of 28 rebounds (Howard 16, Asik 12). Jeremy Lin starting for the injured Patrick Beverley also provided the team with a solid 14 pts., 3 steals and 4 assists.
The Rockets still need to address the issue of turnovers as the team combined for a total of 22, with Lin (6) and Harden (4) accounting for almost half of them. The Mavericks were able to capitalize on these turnovers to the tune of 18 points and better teams will take even more advantage of these opportunities if the Rockets don’t find a way to secure the ball.
Our bench, once again, played a huge role in the win. Omri Casspi (now aptly named The Great Casspi) scored 13 pts. and was a perfect 3-3 from the arch. Aaron Brooks came to play with 14 points in just 23 minutes and was perfect from the free throw line (5-5). The Rockets shot 46.6% from the field and got a little help from Dirk Nowitzki fouling out in the 4th quarter on a fast-break layup by Harden.
The Rockets will square off against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City tonight at 8:00 p.m. on CSN Houston (for those of you lucky enough to have it).
As for Dwight Howard’s thoughts on Mark Cuban‘s comments?
“What would you want him to say? He’s taking up for his team. I would do the same thing if somebody didn’t want to play with me. I would think they made a bad decision … if I would have went to his team he would have been happy.”
Howard keeping it classy? Playing like he wants it? Dare I say he’s found a team he finally enjoys playing for with pieces around him to win a championship… what a dangerous prospect for the rest of the league.
You can catch the box score of the Rockets/Mavericks game here.