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3 thoughts after the Houston Rockets run the Dallas Mavericks off the floor, 133-108

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A terrible loss to end a rough stretch of games in the last week.

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Houston Rockets at home Saturday night, 133-108. DeMarcus Cousins wrecked the Dallas defense, scoring 28 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and dishing five assists. Luka Doncic was the high point man for Dallas with 26.

With both the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets having played a high volume of games in the last week as well as each team missing a number of rotation players with injury issues, one might have expected a lackluster game from both teams. Rather, the Mavericks looked gassed early, falling behind quickly and constantly playing catch up. Dallas settled for lots of mid-range jumpers whereas Houston attacked the rim and found open three point shooters. After one, the Mavericks found themselves down 38-27.

The second quarter saw Dallas searching for answers and, in short, there weren’t any. Cousins pummeled the Mavericks, playing with energy on the offensive end and crushing them on the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds to go along with 17 first half points. The Mavericks somehow hung within 12 to 15 points. Following a last second jumper from Jalen Brunson after a missed Luka Doncic free throw with 1.1 seconds left, Dallas found themselves down 11 at the half. The Mavericks trailed the Houston Rockets 70-59.

Something shook the Mavericks awake at halftime, as they came out blazing and cut the Rocket lead all the way down to three. Then Dallas collapsed in every way imaginable. Willie Cauley-Stein elected to get burnt by every Rocket player he was near and the Mavericks couldn’t convert in kind on offense. Threes, drives, and just generally caring from Houston resulted in blowing the doors off Dallas the rest of the half. Houston led 104-83 after 36 minutes of basketball.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle waived the white flag in the fourth, playing all the rookies on the roster, Boban Marjanovic, and Jalen Brunson. There’s not much to report past that, because the various drafted Dallas Mavericks rookies looked significantly worse than the various undrafted Houston Rockets rookies. Dallas fell back to .500 Saturday evening, losing 133-108 to the Houston Rockets.

Some thoughts:

The Dallas Mavericks have no excuse for that loss

It’s true the Mavericks are missing four rotation guys. It’s likely smart in a long season to rest Kristaps Porzingis with Dallas playing their fifth game in seven nights. Dallas played last night on the road. The start of this season has been unkind at times to the Dallas Mavericks, there’s no doubt about that.

But they have no excuse for their collective effort. The Houston Rockets experienced a season shifting trade recently. Against Dallas, they were missing three rotation players, two of which are arguably their best players in Victor Oladipo and Christian Wood. They’ve played five games in the last eight nights. They, too, played last night on the road.

And yet, their entire team played hard from the opening tip. Dallas, as a team, often played like a team taking a nap. It was gross to watch.

Tim Hardaway is too important to play that badly

It’s one thing for Hardaway to start the game 0-for-6, which he did, but where he crushed Dallas was everywhere else. The Rockets bullied him on the boards, he was tremendously unaware on defense, and he also couldn’t hit a shot for most of the game. He’s too valuable to be that inconsequential or ineffective.

Boogie Cousins embarrassed the Mavericks

I noted last night that DeMarcus Cousins, through 14 games, had only connected on 21-of-82 field goal attempts. That’s right, he’d made just 26% of his field goals. Against the Mavericks he scored 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting, grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished out five assists.

I suppose you could make the argument that he was due, but I knew things were going bad in the third quarter when Derek Harper made the comment that Dallas didn’t need to guard Boogie at the three point line. He proceeded to hit his next three attempts from range.

Rather, it’s worth sharing this information, just because it’s infuriating to watch even as we understand the Mavericks are short handed. Cousins had one 15 point, 15 rebound half in his 576 game career. He had his second one against Dallas Saturday night.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban, and James Johnson didn’t bother him at all.

I don’t know what else to say. The guys with COVID will help shake things up a bit, but when this team loses like that, it’s disheartening.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.