Well this is weird. After the brutal December and early January stretch, it felt like the Dallas Mavericks (17-23) would never win more than a game here and there again this season. But here they are, having defeated the Houston Rockets (21-19), sending the Rockets to their fifth straight loss as Dallas extends it's season high win streak to four games. O.J. Mayo lead the way for Dallas with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. Omer Asik was the best player on the floor for Houston, scoring 12 and grabbing 15 rebounds.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair in the beginning, until Chandler Parsons hit a three and James Harden pushed off a Dallas miss to score a driving lay up to make the game 15-10. After a Dallas timeout, the Mavs went on a crazy 19-0 over a six minute time span. Houston committed a ghastly nine turnovers in the quarter as Dallas looked to run and get to the free throw line as often as possible. A three with a little over a minute left from Toney Douglas finally snapped the cold streak and the period ended 29-18, with Dallas in the lead.
Houston began the second quarter on a 6-0 run before a Dahntay Jones free throw and a Jae Crowder and-one lay up got the Mavs back on track. Dallas kept the lead in the 9 to 13 point range for part of the quarter until Houston rookie Patrick Beverley finally gave Houston a spark, making some shots, moving the ball well, and even registering a block as Houston closed the gap to within six points. Five quick points from Mayo and a lay in from Kaman saw Dallas take a 52-44 lead into the half.
The third quarter began very much like the first, with each team hitting shots. Then the Dallas offense went off the rails a bit as James Harden attempted to take over the game. Though solid passing and a number of free throw attempts, Harden willed the Rockets back to within two points. Then with 2:45 left, he picked up his fourth foul, and had to go to the bench. Some free throws and a corner three from Dirk later, the Mavericks took a seven point lead into the final frame, leading 80-73.
Dallas started the final quarter emphatically, with a Mike James pass to Elton Brand for an and-one lay in, extending the Dallas lead to 10 points. The lead stayed around this mark until about the six minute mark when a 8-0 run from Jeremy Lin and James Harden brought the Rockets back to within three. A free throw and a three pointer from Lin saw the lead close to one point before Dirk Nowitzki hit a big jump shot over Carlos Delfino. The Rockets continued to attack the rim and managed to get three more free throws to tie the game. Then a monstrous Elton Brand block of a James Harden shot resulted in free throws for Mayo after a fast break layup attempt. An ugly possession from the Rockets resulted in Dirk getting fouled on a rebound and from there the game was essentially over, with Dallas eventually winning 105-100.
-Mike James played before Roddy Beaubois. He made some excellent passes but also shot a ridiculous eight times, only making one. This is worth monitoring as the Mavericks move forward.
-Along the same vein, Darren Collison committed a terrible foul on Lin with a little under two minutes left. Carlisle yanked him in favor of James. I understand being frustrated with Collison, but it wasn't the right move. Collison has played very well as of late and deserves a little slack.
-I like getting the win, don't get me wrong, but like Carlisle said over the last few games, these wins feel a bit like fools gold. Dallas has won the last three games in this streak playing against teams on the second night of a back to back, which isn't exactly impressive. Harden and Lin missed seven free throws tonight and shot a combined 11 for 36 from the field. Part of that is defense, but Houston also missed an absurd number of shots at the rim that weren't contested.
-Shawn Marion had 18 points, 9 rebounds, three assists while playing fantastic defense. A lot of folks want to trade him, but folks need to ask themselves who fills the gaping hole he'd leave behind. He's vital to the success of Dallas.
-Dallas shot 43 free throws. Woooah.
-Mr. Mayo shot the ball horribly, 3 for 14 against the Rockets. BUT, he also got to the free throw line a career high 13 times, making 12 of them. Obviously this number isn't something he can get to night in and night out, but he's averaged around 4 per game this season and if he wants big money from Dallas this off season, he needs to get that average up to about 6.5 per game. His 8 assists were also fantastic.
-Jae Crowder can certainly play some basketball! I enjoy watching him grow as a player.
-Dirk's 10 points in the fourth were awesome, but he needs to command the ball more often.
-See you all Friday for the OKC game!