It was the battle of I-45 as the desperate Rockets came into Dallas to face….well……the desperate Mavericks. Each team was fighting for their playoff lives as a loss could mean a fishing trip and watching the playoffs from the couch. Dallas also had the opportunity to sweep their only western conference opponent of the year.
I think we all expected the Mavs to come out looking to revenge the last 2 losses but they looked disinterested to start the game. The 3 point party started early for the Rockets as Courtney Lee hit 2 straight 3’s from the corner. The Mavericks defensive presence early in games is a problem as well. During one Houston possession, I could’ve sworn that I saw the Mavs defense with cameras in hand as they admired Scola while he took a wide open baseline jumper. It looked as if the Rockets might try and pull away early but not on Vince Carter’s watch. After blowing 2 easy lay ups, Vince came back strong at the end of the quarter with 2 dunks. The score was all tied at 27 at the first.
“Vince played his most important game of the season,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was real aggressive offensively, he used his body defensively and good things happened on both ends.”
It was early in the second quarter when Jason Terry hit a pull up 3 pointer to pass Chauncey Billups on the all time 3’s made list. Terry now sits at the #4 spot all time. Terry didn’t stop there as he went on to score 10 straight points in the quarter. Outside of Terry, the Mavs offense was cold as they missed wide open jump shots. Chase Buddinger answered Terry with a few 3’s of his own and Houston wouldn’t go away. After another Mavs careless turnover, Dragic hit a 3 with a hand in his face, which was followed by another Rockets 3 on the next possession. It was obvious at this point the Houston game plan was to wear Dallas down with the 3 ball. It seemed to be their only offense. But wait, Jason Kidd answers with 3 straight 3 pointers of his own and the Mavs were right back in the game. It’s all fun and games when the 3 ball is falling but more often than not, a team will die by the 3. Question is; which team would it be? Here’s a hint, the team name rhymes with “Schmrockets.” The game was tied at 55 at half time.
Halftime Report brought to you by Brooks Brothers, the official shirt of the lower bowl at the American Airline sCenter:
– 46 Brooks Brothers Oxford shirts and counting in the first 5 rows……
– Marcus Camby with two 14 foot” jumpers”? With his crazy wind-up shot, I find it hard to believe that no Mavs player was able to collapse on him. The kid sitting baseline could’ve at least challenged those.
– Ian Mahimni with a basket interference play in the 2nd. I thought that rule was changed in LA on Sunday? Hmmmm
– Sunglasses guy is back! Sitting right next to the Mavs bench. Last seen at the Memphis game.
The 3rd quarter was an ugly one for Dallas as they continued to leave wide open looks for Houston. This quarter saw the Rockets net their 9th 3 pointer with most of the looks coming after Dallas turnovers. Lowry pulled up for 3 and drained it right over Terry and I was beginning to think that it was one of “those nights”. It was horrible shot selection by the Rockets but it paid off at the expense of the Mavericks, yet again. Russell Brand scored 12 in the quarter for Houston. Oh wait, that’s not Russell Brand? The quarter seemed to be getting away fromDallas until Brandan Wright hit a shot with .02 left on the clock and the Mavs were within 6 to start the fourth. It was time for Dirk to join the party, fashionably late.
Fourth quarter belonged to Dallas and our main man, Dirk. As if it were a microcosm for the season, the Mavs moved lethargically the first 3 quarters of the game just to turn it on in the final stretch. After a crazy shot by Lowry to beat the shot clock, the Mavs stomped out any chance of a Houston win. The Mavs had the Rockets on the ropes with pesky defense and stellar offense. Dirk put in back to back 3’s to get the Mavs within 2. Then the uppercut when Terry put the team ahead with another 3 with 7 minutes left. Shortly after, BOOM ,Vince Carter with a 3! Mavs were up by 4 points with 6:55 to play and they never looked back. Dirk was unstoppable as he poured in his 21st point FOR THE QUARTER! He ended the night with 35 points with only 4 of them coming in the first half.
“The first half I was a step slow. Then I got going. The guys kept us in it,” Nowitzki said. “The second half, guys were looking for me. I got some good looks and got into the game.”
It also should be worth noting the play where Vince Carter followed up a Jason Terry missed shot with a ferocious put back dunk. I almost spit out my Kool Aid after that. Carter ended the night with 23 points! After feeling that Monday’s game in Utahwas his best outing, he “one-upped” it last night.
“I just want to be aggressive and make the most of my minutes on the floor and let it all hang out,” Carter said. “More than anything, it’s that time of the year. We’re trying to fight for a spot, and it’s time to gear yourself to play at the level it takes to compete in the playoffs.”
Mavs win 117-110!
For the sake of staying positive, I WONT MENTION the fact that our lazy inbounds pass was stolen when trying to ice the game and was converted into aHoustonlay up. Illalso NOT MENTION the ridiculous 4 point play by Lowry to keep the Rockets hopes up. And I’ll FORGET TO MENTION the fact that Marcus Camby had a double double with a bad back and taped up left wrist. Brendan Haywood has to be a bigger factor in the playoffs. The Center position has dominated the Mavericks this year
The Mavericks have developed a habit of opening up games by taking teams for granted. They’ve had many careless turnovers due to lazy passes. They’ve also allowed a lot of wide open jumpers and layups. My theory is that they’re keeping their cards to their chest. Just like the turned it on last night when it counted, my hope is that they’ll turn it on once the playoffs start. I expect the intensity level on defense to show up for a full 4 quarters in the post season. I also think that the attention to detail on offense will be addressed as well. I’m confident that this is not wishful thinking.
Overall, this team showed heart tonight. After the heart breakers out west on Sunday and Monday, they showed up and put a team away when they had to. Lead by our fearless leaders, Dirk and JET.
Nuggets Lost!!! Mavs back in the 6 seed looking at a matchup with the LA’s. Either team is fine with me. We can beat them both.