Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks on 11/20/2013

The 2013-14 season will be 13 games old after tonight, but the Houston Rockets will finish off already their fourth back-to-back game of the season in Dallas.  Fortunately, yesterday’s utter evisceration of the Boston Celtics ensured that the Rockets starters will be ready for tonight’s game.  The Mavericks last played on Monday night, eking out a tough 97-94 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Tonight’s contest will be the second game against the Mavericks.  In that game, Houston raced out to a 38-22 first quarter lead.  While the Rockets would hang on to win, the rest of the game dissolved into one of the ugliest displays of basketball I have ever seen, with incessant fouls on both ends, zone defense, Hack-a-Howard, turnovers galore, and even a last-ditch effort from Mavericks forward Jae Crowder to replicate Tracy McGrady’s “13 in 33.” What is important to note is that this was the one game early in the season where the Howard-Asik combination was not used at the beginning, as Omer Asik picked up two fouls in the first minute of play and Omri Casspi took his place.  The result was that highly successful first quarter, something which Kevin McHale should take note of for tonight.

Despite that loss, Dallas currently sits at a 7-4 record, only a half-game behind the Rockets.  Monta Ellis is having a career year efficiency-wise (see below), Dirk Nowitzki is plugging along at only a slightly reduced level, and the Mavericks are shooting 39% from long range this season (side note: there are five teams – Golden State, Miami, Milwaukee, Portland, and the Lakers – which attempt over 15 3-pointers per game and make over 40% of them.  If you adjust this to over 20 3-pointers per game, only Milwaukee is removed. Golden State is currently at 46%.  I know small sample size and all, but it still is utterly ridiculous.)  Dallas runs a lot of pick and rolls – according to Synergy Sports, Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon have ran 159 plays this season involving the pick and roll, while the Rockets as a team have ran 160.  This is a dangerous team offensively, with a lot of shooters, ball handlers, and still one of the best big man today in Nowitzki.

In addition, the Mavericks are nowhere as bad on defense as everyone predicted during the preseason – Dallas ranks 14th in defensive rating.  Samuel Dalembert may only play 23 minutes per game, but Dejuan Blair has done an excellent job backing it up.  Defense, more often than not, is just about effort, a willingness to execute, and a sound coaching scheme.  With one of the best coaches in Rick Carlisle and veterans aplenty, Dallas has definitely been able to play up to their potential.

Yet where Dallas is at right now, at a 7-4 record and the 7th seed in the always tumultuous Western Conference, is their potential.  And Houston has yet to reach theirs.  Tonight’s game will be an important test given that these teams could very well end up facing off in the first round.

Rotation Spotlight:

Monta Ellis 

Monta Ellis

Ellis over the years has been viewed as one of the weaknesses of traditional boxscore numbers against the newer, more efficiency-focused statistics.  Sure, as the lead player for the Golden State Warriors, he put up high volume numbers and averaged over 25 points in one season.  But given how many field goals Ellis was using and how bad the Warriors were at the time, how good was he really?

So far behind Dirk Nowitzki, the answer seem to be “a good second option.”  Ellis is putting up a career high field goal percentage, is getting to the line more than ever before, and even his much-maligned three point shooting has gone from “should be fined for ever attempting one” to just bad at 32%.  As mentioned above, Ellis runs a ridiculous amount of pick and rolls with Dirk and Shawn Marion, which are both incredibly difficult to guard especially with the numerous shooters that the Mavericks possess.  He is also quite capable of just going off, as he recently demonstrated in the last game against Philadelphia when he scored 13 in the 3rd quarter.  Harden’s defense has improved since that disastrous performance against the Lakers, but Ellis will be the best shooting guard he has faced since then.

Game tips off on ESPN at 8:30pm CST.

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Total comments: 29
  • Richards says 10 months ago

    Coaching coaching coaching. Not just a game plan. Great coaches make poor player good and good player better. I didn't see that from our coaches.

  • thenit says 10 months ago

    I thought I was the only one who noticed that. When players drives past harden he doesn't try to run after them, he taps them from the back trying to get a steal. Nothing terrible, I just think it looks funny.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    I've seen Ginobili have off nights that didn't result in extended minutes on the bench, and that's an understatement if you watched the NBA finals. You also have to consider the likelihood that Lin would have done a better job staying in front of Ellis than this guy:

    10982688626_074f124c29_o.jpg

    James Harden's idea of defense is to let players drive past him as he pokes the ball out from behind them--ole style.

    I don't usually question McHale's coaching, but when I do it's usually in regards to his rotations. Hopefully Morey has enough sample size to sit down with McHale and go over what works and what doesn't.

  • thenit says 10 months ago

    I don't think Lin got enough time to get his rhythm last night. Not really any good looks. Still, if he's going to make this 6th man thing work, he'll have to be able to be productive in those situations. One reason Bev was great off the bench last year is that he provides an instant impact. A little easier to do that on D than on offense since D is not as subject to cold streaks.

    But my main point is-- did McHale make ANY adjustments during the fourth quarter when everything was falling apart?

    I agree to a certain extent. Lin had a off night, and since all other rockets players has been shooting poorly until a couple of games ago, and he carried the load, he does get a free pass. He hustled on the minutes he got. Bev also had poor shooting nights last year, and also trouble defending a few times, but mostly he comes out with energy which helps a lot. Sometimes I do think we as fans overvalue Bev's defensive abilities. Just because you run a lot with intensity doesn't mean he is doing a great overall defensive job. Last night he ran a lot but he couldn't defend Ellis, but who could.

    I just think its McHale rotation that is inconsistent and his coaching on late game situations or after time outs where he seems to get outcoached. People say its not his fault but I tend to disagree, if the players don't listen to the coach or the plays he sets up are just that bad, then he is at fault either way. I'm the camp that thinks McHale is just not the right coach for this team.

  • SadLakerFan says 10 months ago Just watched 4th qtr highlights. They just looked gassed at the end of a back-to-back. That's on McHale, no?
  • lawprofsr says 10 months ago I don't think Lin got enough time to get his rhythm last night. Not really any good looks. Still, if he's going to make this 6th man thing work, he'll have to be able to be productive in those situations. One reason Bev was great off the bench last year is that he provides an instant impact. A little easier to do that on D than on offense since D is not as subject to cold streaks.

    But my main point is-- did McHale make ANY adjustments during the fourth quarter when everything was falling apart?
  • HazeWinkle says 10 months ago

    My question is if Beverly couldn't stop monta. Why didn't they put Lin in for some instant offense that was badly needed instead of everyone throwing the rock to Harden and make him take low percentage shots? Although Lin was ice cold at 0/5. Beverly's d on monta was a lost cause already. Don't think anyone could've stopped Ellis tonight. I read somewhere that multiple 4th quarter collapses in such a short time is mostly a coaching problem. Id have to agree. Mc hale should be on the hot seat. If bev was making stops then yeah let him stay in.

    Lin is worse at playind d and lin was horrible tonight he looked like he didnt know what he was doing at all. Parsons disapperaed in the second half and let marion win the game and dwights stupid techinal foul cost them. This team does not how to play team defense at all they are horrible horrible horrible. kEVIN mCHALE is a bad coach the only play he knows is let james harden dribble for 20 sec just to shoot a fadeaway. This team will get knocked out of the first round because they suck at defense and kevin mchale rotation is non existent. Jones and casspi are ballen

  • Blahwoop says 10 months ago My question is if Beverly couldn't stop monta. Why didn't they put Lin in for some instant offense that was badly needed instead of everyone throwing the rock to Harden and make him take low percentage shots? Although Lin was ice cold at 0/5. Beverly's d on monta was a lost cause already. Don't think anyone could've stopped Ellis tonight. I read somewhere that multiple 4th quarter collapses in such a short time is mostly a coaching problem. Id have to agree. Mc hale should be on the hot seat. If bev was making stops then yeah let him stay in.
  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    watching the last poss replays on epsn and i dont like how harden pretty much turned his back for a second and gave up after he missed even tho we got the ball back. not that bev could have some how gotten the ball to harden or harden could have made a contributing diff, but he needs to play til theres a whistle or horn. just a minor complaint though i mean i love having harden. therell be plays to complain about with all players.

  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    cant remember who said it on twitter but when every team seems to shoot lights out against you, yeah its not continual bad luck as it may seem. anyway yeah typical def woes. and i agree about harden closing out games. i harped on mchale for it last year but idk. who knows. season still has a long way to go. just one game.

  • HazeWinkle says 10 months ago

    i just cant fathom how bad this team is at defense they have to be one of the worst defensive teams out there

  • amacbrooks12 says 10 months ago So fustrated right now, especially with this specific blown game. Another blown lead .. don't know whether to blame the coaching staff or the fact that the Mavs we're basically hitting EVERYTHING that 4th quarter. Btw, I really question Harden's decisions when it comes down to the last seconds of the game. It's either a stepback contested jumper or a turnover on the drive. Tonight he simply rushed the 3 point shot, when he could've moved up a little more after passing Shawn Marion for a closer and better shot. So Fustrating.
  • miketheodio says 10 months ago

    why do garcia and casspi put the ball on the floor so much?

  • RudyT1995 says 10 months ago

    When you consider the amount of points this team scores, you would think that the games would be fun to watch. But they're not. They've been agonizing.

    I don't know how many more of these ugly late game Harden iso's I can take. I know he's playing hurt and can't push off either foot all that well, but man... he's gotta make an adjustment or something.

  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    I wasn't following - did they somehow manage to lose?

    outscored by 17 in 4th (or some # like that)

  • SadLakerFan says 10 months ago I wasn't following - did they somehow manage to lose?
  • Buckko says 10 months ago

    This game shouldn't have been even close because now we're just looking like choke city. Losing leads and games we should've won. We have had only one true loss in the first clippers game, but just failing at the end of games like this is just irritating.

  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    only a small aspect of the game, and prob stating the obv, but a game this close, you look at the stats, all pretty similar, IMO it comes down to Carlisle > McHale. too bad that doesnt take away the pain.

  • HazeWinkle says 10 months ago

    No Lin no win lol

    On a more serious note, I think we showed some serious improvement the last two games, and win or lose that's what's important.

    improvement haha you must not be watching the same game because they still cant play defense and thats been the whole season. LIN is garabage good games against bad teams

  • HazeWinkle says 10 months ago

    this team has gotten worse since last year if you think about they were scoring at will last year but couldnt play d fast foreward till today and they still cant play d and they have the best center in the game. Minnesota is going to light them up saturday

  • Losthief says 10 months ago

    Mavs shot 58% from the field. Good grief.

    more importantly 74 pecent when in the 4th...when we should be more defensively engaged.

  • RudyT1995 says 10 months ago

    Mavs shot 58% from the field. Good grief.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    No Lin no win lol

    On a more serious note, I think we showed some serious improvement the last two games, and win or lose that's what's important.

  • HazeWinkle says 10 months ago

    rockets are trash on defense

  • SadLakerFan says 10 months ago Amazing night so far for Howard. A word of caution for you guys - Dwight was a monster in a couple early games last year 12/14 FGM, stuff like that. We all know how that turned out - not wishing for that to happen, but just saying, you can get excited; just don't get too excited.
  • tombrokeoff says 10 months ago

    great first half. let dallas back into it a little more than id like to close it out, but not like we were ever up huge.

  • Drew in Abilene says 10 months ago

    Dwight has gotten quite a few touches, both post ups that he capitalized on and lobs he's slammed home. Super efficient so far, and changing shots on the other end. He even hit a deep three on an inbounds play, though it didn't count since there was only 0.1 left on the clock.

    Jones was ridiculous on offense early, but could not contain Dirk, who made his typical circus shots despite Terrence's best efforts. Parsons and Harden have been hitting from deep and driving with purpose. Lin and Beverley have both performed well. Another forty point first quarter was a great way to start, and Houston maintained a good lead in the second.

    What I've seen in these last couple of games is what I was hoping for coming into the season. Let's hope they keep it up in the second half!

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    Intra-state rivalry and a pesky, well-coached Dallas team. This one will be quite challenging for the Rockets. Let's see how the new starting lineup including T-Jones fares tonight then more definitive feelings about T-Jones going forward can be taken with more seriousness.

    I look more at body of work when forming opinions. T-Jones will have bumps and pitfalls along the way, but if the Rockets are patient he willanswerour PF question.I am more concerned with the lack of touches by D-12 over the past few games. we have got to get him going offensively. at some point this season we are going to need that production

  • rocketrick says 10 months ago Intra-state rivalry and a pesky, well-coached Dallas team. This one will be quite challenging for the Rockets. Let's see how the new starting lineup including T-Jones fares tonight then more definitive feelings about T-Jones going forward can be taken with more seriousness.