The Houston Rockets pull off a dominating rendition of the Texas Two Step, and beat the Spurs and the Mavericks on back to back nights.
LAJHDSAKNZLKAJGDICBQEUYLHAPOIQURMBKASBCV! That fourth quarter though. In the post game wrap up Brett Dolan asked Calvin Murphy with a smile, “Was that fun?” To which Murph responded with a stone cold face, “Nope.” Yeah that about sums it up.
The Rockets played an incredibly consistent and efficient first three quarters only to have a complete psychological meltdown and almost piss the game away in the final minutes. I was at the game in Dallas when we threw away the big lead late on national television, and towards the end of this one I was having violent flashbacks of watching the wretched Maverick fans enjoy themselves in their own arena. The nerve they have!
It’s going to be hard for me to control my disdain for Dirk “Diarrhea Soft” Nowitzski (too much?) and the entire city of Dallas but I’ll do my best as we go.
TO THE RECAP!
The Skinny (Quarters 1-3)
The fourth quarter is really what I want to talk about so I’ll try to breeze through the first three.
Early on in the season I used to write about a player that some say is just a myth. A whisper heard in-between the hallowed walls of Toyota Center. But I’m here to confirm that he does in fact exist and his name is Confident Lin. Some compare him to world renown phenomenon Jeremy Lin but in reality these two people could not be more different. First name Confident, last name Lin.
When Confident Lin steps onto the court you can smell the swagger. The gravitational pull of Confident Lin’s swagger is what actually keeps us planted on this Earth. Next time you jump and don’t float into the stratosphere, thank Confident Lin.
Confident Lin drives to the basket when ever he damn well pleases. He drains tough shots and laughs in the face of your attempt to foil him. He plays alert (although clumsy) defense and he is exactly what every team would desire from a sixth man or spot starter. In yesterday’s game against the Spurs and their O.A.F.S., he was beginning to form but today gave Lin a chance to really strut his stuff.
I’m doing a terrible job of being brief so far so I’m going to speed it up.
First of all Dirk was insanely good…again. The fall away one foot jump shot was working for him tonight and he made defensive strategy seem useless. On top of that the Mavericks were running some very pick and roll(ish) plays to get Dirk favorable match ups. Multiple times Dirk ended up with Lin guarding him in the post and there wasn’t much anyone could do at that point. Terrence Jones struggled with him all night and the only person to kind of put a hitch in his step was D-Mo just because of his length. However Dirk was 11-14 for 29 in the first three quarters so the Rockets were pretty much like, “Okaaaaay well lets try to stop everyone else then.”
Chandler Parsons played his tail off and at times played like a true star. He was ISO-ing the Maverick defense and winning more times than not. When you hit 10 threes in a half that kind of performance tends to reach a lot of ears, so his pump fake seemed extra effective tonight. He gathered 24 points through the first three quarters.
Rick Carlisle and Dallas threw quite a few defensive wrinkles at the Rockets tonight. First of all they would switch in and out of zone defense. After each switch the Rockets clearly would have to take a possession to adjust and the offense would slow down quite a bit. Also, because of the early post play success of Dwight Howard, the Mavericks started doubling him. Dwight hasn’t seen a whole lot of double teams as a Rocket and that also took a second for the perimeter players to adjust to. McHale said this in his post game interview but the Rockets have to get a lot better at capitalizing on the Howard double team. Howard was given very few passing options and a lot of those possessions went to waste.
The bench played fantastic! The minutes that D-Mo and Aaron Brooks played were part of the reason that you could call the first three quarters some of the most consistent basketball that the Rockets have played all year. Through the first three they each had 11 points and the Rockets went into the fourth leading 91-85 against a Mavericks team that over all was playing pretty well. Houston was just better.
The beginning of the fourth featured an extremely strange lineup choice from coach McHale. Beverley, Brooks, Casspi, Jones and D-Mo. This group struggled each time it was on the court. Brooks could make defenders look glued to the floor but he could also throw one into the 10th row. D-Mo would make a good move but then miss the free throws. Once the Rockets switched to the starters plus D-Mo, then things really got going. Confident Lin hit two driving layups then Beverley his a three on an assist from Lin and the lead was now 102-95. With four minutes left as Carlisle watched his teams hopes fade away, he grasped the only straw he had left, Hack-A-Howard. Popovich had done the same thing the night before and it had backfired on him (or did it? Great read). Dwight proceeded to hit 7-8 free throws and the Mavs abandoned this strategy within a minute of enacting it. Lin hit a lay up right after and the lead was 116-104 and then things got freaky.
Dallas was running plays to get Vince Carter and Dirk open three point shots. Carter jacks up a three and D-Mo fouls him. Three points later, Devin Harris jacks up a three and Beverley fouls him; three more points. It’s 116-110 with a minute and a half left and all of the sudden its Rocket fan panic time. Carter nails a three after a D-Mo free throw and Dirk draws a foul and goes for two more free throws. It’s 117-115 with 22 seconds left and all the Rockets have to do is get the ball in the hands of their best free throw shooter, Aaron Brooks. The first inbound play gets thwarted and in their second attempt they try to hit Brooks as he sprints into the back court away from Houston’s basket. They assumed Brooks would be able to burn the slower Calderon but he tips it and Brooks then bounces it off his foot out of bounds with 19 seconds left.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY?!?!?!
The Mavericks set up for the final play of the game. Calderon gets the ball at the top with Dirk to set a pick. The Rockets SWITCH for some reason! Lin is now on Dirk at the elbow, and as he starts his move D-Mo comes off of Calderon to double team. In the post game McHale said he wasn’t going to let Dirk beat them so maybe they switched because he knew the double was the next move. Dirk sees it coming and swings it out Calderon up top for a wide open three.
HE MISSED! Rebound Mavericks. GAAAAAAHHHHHHH
As time expires Calderon takes another leaning relatively wide open three as Parsons flew by him.
HE MISSED AGAIN! GET A REBOUND! D-Mo comes down with it. Game over. Rockets win. Time to breathe again.
As far as the broadcast crew goes, it felt like Bill and Bull had both been abducted and replaced with their Bizarro counter parts. Both were cutting the Refs some slack, saying that they are ok with late whistles determined by whether or not the player makes the shot. And that Dirk deserves all the bogus calls he gets. I don’t really disagree but to hear that coming from them, the homerish homers that ever homered, was weird.
You Clever Girl You
So for the most part the Rockets inbounding plays were disasters. But there was one instance that was pretty cool. The play clock was at .9 in the third quarter and the Rockets had to inbound from under their basket. McHale yells from the side, “TWELVE TWELVE TWELVE, DWIGHT DWIGHT DWIGHT” which was supposed to be signaling the play. In that scenario a play to Dwight makes sense, because with .9 seconds to get a shot off, a lob to Dwight or something of the like would be fast enough. As the defense drew in on Dwight, Parsons with the ball was looking the defense off of Aaron Brooks who came swooping in past Dwight to receive a handoff from Parsons and quickly dump it up and in. Beautifully executed.
The statistical nitty gritty is here.
The Rockets do it again on Saturday against the Cavaliers at 7PM CST.
Tags: Houston Rockets