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Houston Rockets 113, Dallas Mavericks 105: Even Ugly Games Have Winners

This has to be the most tightly reffed game I’ve ever seen. At times it felt like you couldn’t go more than a couple of possessions without hearing yet another tweet, so it was no surprise that both teams looked out of sync for significant portions of the game. There was foul trouble all over the place, there were two separate bouts of Hack-a-Howard, and even some late game intentional fouls, the upshot of which was that the Rockets went to the line 51 times over the course of the game. Combine that with 25 free throws for the Mavericks and 38 turnovers between the two teams and you have a recipe for a REALLY ugly game of basketball. But even in a game like this someone still gets to win, and in the end the Rockets emerged victorious.

Some thoughts:

  • This is the sort of game that’s tailor-made for James Harden. While the rest of the team plays best when it is in rhythm, Harden thrives off getting to the line and punishing defenders for their hesitance once they’re in foul trouble. He was a force tonight en route to 34 points on only 17 shots, pushing on through the avalanche of whistles and stopping the Mavericks from ever getting too close. This was exemplified by an And-1 midway through the final frame that fouled Nowitzki out of the game and pushed a lead that was starting to look a bit ropey back towards a more comfortable level.
  • The whistle denied us from seeing much of the twin towers in this game. It started with Asik having to go to the bench with two fouls within the first minute, and continued from there. Asik picked up fouls quickly whenever he was on the court and ended up fouling out having played only 15 minutes! He tried out a variety of bemused expressions, but sadly none of them garnered much sympathy from the refs.
  • At least they were being even-handed – Dalembert also got in early foul trouble and had to sit for most of the first half. This left DeJuan Blair with the unenviable task of keeping Dwight Howard off the boards, and predictably this section of the game was when the Rockets opened up a sizeable lead that they held for the rest of the game. This may be a dynamic that rears its head a few times over the course of the season – few teams have the big bodies to be able to cope with the Rockets tremendous rebounding edge if their starting centre has to sit. With Howard and Harden’s ability to draw fouls, they may be able to engineer situations like this more often in the future.
  • Dallas put on a zone late in the second quarter and were able to go on a run to cut a lead that at one point was at 22 down to 11 at half time and then to 6 mid-way through the third. It seemed very effective and is something the McHale will need to emphasise in practice. When the Rockets played with only three shooters (either with Asik or Brewer playing alongside Howard), the spacing was off – there no driving lanes and the offence stagnated. Even with a four shooter configuration, the team often settled for threes early in the shot clock and spiralled into a funk as most of them missed the mark.
  • No Patrick Beverley meant Aaron Brooks got to see significant minutes off the bench (13 points in 23 minutes). There was some good and some bad, but overall I felt like he has improved a lot since last season. Back when he first came to the team I thought he called his own number too much and the Rockets could never get into a rhythm when he was on the court. But with a training camp with the team under his belt he now looks like he has figured out how to fit into the team concept better, and he now seems to be able to strike a much better balance between looking to drive and looking to pass. He still leaves something to be desired defensively though – somehow the Mavs’ offence seemed more potent whenever he was on the floor.
  • With the Mavericks landing in foul trouble with 6 minutes to go into the third quarter, they turned to Hack-a-Howard. He shot 3-8 in the first bout, which will not do much to dissuade other teams from trying it out if need be. But when they tried again in the 4th quarter he sunk both free-throws and they didn’t bother him again.
  • I’m really impressed by Garcia’s ability to double team. He is really forceful about it and I’ve noticed it bothering a lot of players when he can pull it off. Tonight he reaped the rewards with a steal and three blocks, and generally made it hard for any of the Mavericks to spend extended time in the post while he was in the game.
  • There was a late scare when Jae Crowder tried on his best Tracy McGrady impression and almost brought the Mavs back into the game in the last few minutes. He hit 4 threes in a row to reduce the lead to 5 with 24 seconds left, but the Rockets made enough free-throws to hold him off.

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  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I was at the game and I would say the officials were just calling the game tighter than usual for an NBA regular season game. Sometimes they'll do that in the 1st half then loosen up their calls in the 2nd half. But not last night!

    I was sitting 3 rows behind Mark Cuban and it was a joy to watch his despair, especially in the first half when the Rockets were rolling.

    I believe D12 clearly outclassed Mark Cuban by refusing to allow Cuban's outrageous statements affect him and his game.

    I have seen tightly called games................but between the two teams they shot 76.........that's right 76 free throws and had57 personal fouls overall. sure hack-a-howard added a few, but 57 personal fouls? POORLY OFFICATED.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    Been a while since I woke up to watch a regular season game, but considering it was the first Israeli derby and the W by the Rockets it was worth it. Casspi had another good game, really liked the possession where he striped Dirk, ran the break and found Howard for an easy layup.

    Casspi has had better games. He got into early foul trouble which affected his playing time considerably. I thought the Mavs did a good job of chasing him off the 3 point line, too, instead forcing him to drive to the basket and shoot unbalanced shots which he kept missing.

    Still, I do like Casspi's energy and effort coming off the bench and he's not always going to have a stellar game each time out.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    I saw this game and the Mavericks pulled out every trick in the bag. Dallas played this game like it was a playoff game. after Cuban shot his mouth off the day before you could see that he really wanted to stick it to Howard and the Rockets. it wasn't a pretty game and was also one of the most poorly officiated games I have seen in awhile. however not all games can be pretty, especially when playing division games.

    I was at the game and I would say the officials were just calling the game tighter than usual for an NBA regular season game. Sometimes they'll do that in the 1st half then loosen up their calls in the 2nd half. But not last night!

    I was sitting 3 rows behind Mark Cuban and it was a joy to watch his despair, especially in the first half when the Rockets were rolling.

    I believe D12 clearly outclassed Mark Cuban by refusing to allow Cuban's outrageous statements affect him and his game.

  • rocketrick says 11 months ago

    Rick Carlise almost steal the game last night. Ugly game was part of his strategy to disrupt Rockets offense.

    After Rockets started very well with a good lead, Rick threw everything at Rockets including dirty tricks.

    It was more like a coaching battle last night.

    Nah, the game was pretty much in no doubt after Dirk fouled out. Don't give TOO much credit to Carlisle. The only reason the Rockets didn't win by double digits is Jae Crowder couldn't miss a 3 in the last few minutes. He hit at least 4, maybe 5 in the last 3 minutes or so of the game, in garbage time. The Rockets also emptied their bench for the last 3 minutes of the game.

  • rockets best fan says 11 months ago

    I didn't get to watch the game last night because I worked but from everything I gather the Mavericks smell of desperation at all levels of their organization.

    I saw this game and the Mavericks pulled out every trick in the bag. Dallas played this game like it was a playoff game. after Cuban shot his mouth off the day before you could see that he really wanted to stick it to Howard and the Rockets. it wasn't a pretty game and was also one of the most poorly officiated games I have seen in awhile. however not all games can be pretty, especially when playing division games.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    We should have ran more pick and rolls when Blair was guarding Dwight, we look good but this is th tip of the iceberg

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago

    Rick Carlise almost steal the game last night. Ugly game was part of his strategy to disrupt Rockets offense.

    After Rockets started very well with a good lead, Rick threw everything at Rockets including dirty tricks.

    It was more like a coaching battle last night.

    I didn't get to watch the game last night because I worked but from everything I gather the Mavericks smell of desperation at all levels of their organization.

  • Richards says 11 months ago

    Rick Carlise almost steal the game last night. Ugly game was part of his strategy to disrupt Rockets offense.

    After Rockets started very well with a good lead, Rick threw everything at Rockets including dirty tricks.

    It was more like a coaching battle last night.

  • redfaithful says 11 months ago

    Been a while since I woke up to watch a regular season game, but considering it was the first Israeli derby and the W by the Rockets it was worth it. Casspi had another good game, really liked the possession where he striped Dirk, ran the break and found Howard for an easy layup.

  • Eric Nielsen says 11 months ago

    I agree about the refs calling such a tight game. I hope this lightens up as the year progresses. All the calls for moving screens, traveling, 3 seconds, hand checks and the like make for an old Eastern conference type of slowed down game. Luckily with Howard and Harden it seems like we can win these types of games as well.

  • BrentYen says 11 months ago

    Won by the defense more, especially in the 1st Q, it is really a New Age. Agree that D12 should get more touches, but his post game is really not very effective IMO.

  • MrLobble says 11 months ago

    I would like to see the team reward Dwight with the ball more... In the first half, he absolutely worked his tail off for tough rebounds and loose balls--only to see another teammate immediately jack-up a long range shot. When the big fella is working like that, at least call his number a few times. It seemed like the team completely went away from him until the fourth quarter. By that time, it seemed like he was out of rhythm offensively.

    Secondly, the players on the court have been slow in seeing Howard move without the ball. I hope as the season progresses, everyone will understand the offense a little better, and instinctively see the quick lob, or his 97% shot. Growing up in Orlando, I saw the Magic perfect those lobs. For instance, n the few attempts from tonight, we either saw Francisco throw a late awkward chest pass, or Jeremy Lin's pass that was equivalent to a 6th grader throwing it up--a slow arching lob. It seemed like there were plenty of other opportunities available, too. With the quickness and versatility of our players, Dwight should get 4 of those easy buckets a game.

    All in all, it's amazing how bad we can play, and still win rather easily.

  • feelingsupersonic says 11 months ago This is going to be such a good year I still have to remind myself it's all really happening. Dang James Harden is doing his thing and I am really excited we have a bonafide MVP candidate on the Rockets. Such a great time to be a Rockets fan.
  • Red94 says 11 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 113, Dallas Mavericks 105: Even Ugly Games Have Winners
    By: Rob Dover

    This has to be the most tightly reffed game I've ever seen. At times it felt like you couldn't go more than a couple of possessions without hearing yet another tweet, so it was no surprise that both teams looked out of sync for significant portions of the game. There was foul trouble all over the place, there were two separate bouts of Hack-a-Howard, and even some late game intentional fouls, the upshot of which was that the Rockets went to the line 51 times over the course of the game. Combine that with 25 free throws for the Mavericks and 38 turnovers between the two teams and you have a recipe for a REALLY ugly game of basketball. But even in a game like this someone still gets to win, and in the end the Rockets emerged victorious.

    Some thoughts:

    • This is the sort of game that's tailor-made for James Harden. While the rest of the team plays best when it is in rhythm, Harden thrives off getting to the line and punishing defenders for their hesitance once they're in foul trouble. He was a force tonight en route to 34 points on only 17 shots, pushing on through the avalanche of whistles and stopping the Mavericks from ever getting too close. This was exemplified by an And-1 midway through the final frame that fouled Nowitzki out of the game and pushed a lead that was starting to look a bit ropey back towards a more comfortable level.
    • The whistle denied us from seeing much of the twin towers in this game. It started with Asik having to go to the bench with two fouls within the first minute, and continued from there. Asik picked up fouls quickly whenever he was on the court and ended up fouling out having played only 15 minutes! He tried out a variety of bemused expressions, but sadly none of them garnered much sympathy from the refs.
    • At least they were being even-handed - Dalembert also got in early foul trouble and had to sit for most of the first half. This left DeJuan Blair with the unenviable task of keeping Dwight Howard off the boards, and predictably this section of the game was when the Rockets opened up a sizeable lead that they held for the rest of the game. This may be a dynamic that rears its head a few times over the course of the season - few teams have the big bodies to be able to cope with the Rockets tremendous rebounding edge if their starting centre has to sit. With Howard and Harden's ability to draw fouls, they may be able to engineer situations like this more often in the future.
    • Dallas put on a zone late in the second quarter and were able to go on a run to cut a lead that at one point was at 22 down to 11 at half time and then to 6 mid-way through the third. It seemed very effective and is something the McHale will need to emphasise in practice. When the Rockets played with only three shooters (either with Asik or Brewer playing alongside Howard), the spacing was off - there no driving lanes and the offence stagnated. Even with a four shooter configuration, the team often settled for threes early in the shot clock and spiralled into a funk as most of them missed the mark.
    • No Patrick Beverley meant Aaron Brooks got to see significant minutes off the bench (13 points in 23 minutes). There was some good and some bad, but overall I felt like he has improved a lot since last season. Back when he first came to the team I thought he called his own number too much and the Rockets could never get into a rhythm when he was on the court. But with a training camp with the team under his belt he now looks like he has figured out how to fit into the team concept better, and he now seems to be able to strike a much better balance between looking to drive and looking to pass. He still leaves something to be desired defensively though - somehow the Mavs' offence seemed more potent whenever he was on the floor.
    • With the Mavericks landing in foul trouble with 6 minutes to go into the third quarter, they turned to Hack-a-Howard. He shot 3-8 in the first bout, which will not do much to dissuade other teams from trying it out if need be. But when they tried again in the 4th quarter he sunk both free-throws and they didn't bother him again.
    • I'm really impressed by Garcia's ability to double team. He is really forceful about it and I've noticed it bothering a lot of players when he can pull it off. Tonight he reaped the rewards with a steal and three blocks, and generally made it hard for any of the Mavericks to spend extended time in the post while he was in the game.
    • There was a late scare when Jae Crowder tried on his best Tracy McGrady impression and almost brought the Mavs back into the game in the last few minutes. He hit 4 threes in a row to reduce the lead to 5 with 24 seconds left, but the Rockets made enough free-throws to hold him off.
  • Richards says 11 months ago

    Dirk, Ellis, Carter won't drive and this could be shoot out match. Rockets has much deeper bench and 2nd unit will save the day again.

  • 2016Champions says 11 months ago

    I think it looks really bad on them that they won a Championship then immediately broke up the team. Tyson Chandler's defense was absolutely crucial to that championship, he's a top 10 center in this league and well worth $11m per year.

  • Sir Thursday says 11 months ago

    I agree with Alituro - if you go at Dalembert naively, he can actually be a very effective defender. It is guile and fakes that allow you to deal with him. In the preseason game against the Mavs I didn't think the Rockets did a very good job of taking him out of the game - we'll see if they've learned from it this time around.

    ST

  • Alituro says 11 months ago

    Sammy may not have very sound defense, technically, but he does have a penchant for blocking and bothering shots. This could be bothersome for Dwight in the post, as, unless he's dunking, I'm not sure if he has the high release or creativity in his shots to consistently get around Sammy's long arms. We will destroy them in rebounds though, Blair or no Blair. I like our chances this game if Harden comes back, because I think Dallas' biggest weakness is they allow teams to dictate which shots they can take, too easily, from having no offensive low post threat. However, with Dirk and Monta on the floor even those shots stand a good chance of falling.

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