The last time the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets met just under seven months ago, the Rockets eliminated the Mavericks in Game 5 of first round Western Conference play. Rajon Rondo was sent home before game four, James Harden shot 52 free throws in the series and the Mavericks tumultuous 2014-15 season was at last beaten to its final breath.
On a night where Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons and Dwight Howard were already scheduled to miss the second half of a back-to-back, word came down just before tipoff that Dirk Nowitzki would also be rested. One of the most anticipated games of the year became the Rockets vs. the Mavs B-team. But basketball is basketball and despite some sort of really important College Football game going on and rookie Justin Anderson being in the starting lineup, we watched and hoped for the Mavs first three game winning streak of the year.
Not just their first three game win streak of the season –something the Mavs accomplished 10 times last season– but done in the team’s only four games in five nights stretch of this season.
Rick Carlisle‘s starting lineup tonight was Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Justin Anderson, Charlie Villanueva and Zaza Pachulia. Twitter was full of people talking about how the decision to watch Baylor and Oklahoma or the Ronda Rousey fight or Doctor Who had been made for them. Well, the Mavs “B-Team” came out firing on all cylinders.
Charlie Villanueva came out firing, finishing with 19 points, eight coming in the first quarter. Dwight Powell had 13 points, 9 rebounds (7 in the first half) and another monster put-back slam. Devin Harris had a season-high 15 and J.J. Barea added 7 of of his own with a team-high 8 assists.
But the story of the night was Raymond Felton. Ray Felt finished with 23 and is just playing with All-Star confidence right now. The throw-ins from last year’s two big trades for Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo were Ray Felton and Dwight Powell, and both have been absolutely hugethrough Dallas’ first 10 games this season. Felton finished the night with 23, and was all razzle dazzle in the 4th quarter. Felton had 15 in the final frame alone. His previous season-high was 18 total points from Opening Night in Phoenix. He had a vine-worthy play of his own and I love to record happy Mavs moments, so I did (watch).
On the other end, James Harden endured one tough evening. The man who proclaims he should have won MVP over Stephen Curry didn’t make a field goal until try number 12, almost four minutes into the second half. He did finish with 25 points because it’s still James Harden, these are still NBA refs and he shot 14 free throws. Sigh. Baby steps, @NBA.
After a 34 point half, Houston scored 33 in the 3rd quarter and pestered at the Mavericks lead the whole second half. Back up to 19 after a J.J. Barea and-1 midway through the 4th, it took just 54 seconds for the lead to shrink back down to 12. The Mavericks led this game wire to wire and come out of it with a big steal of a victory in “Clutch City” (barf).
Terrence Jones had 23 points in his third start of the year, as the super talented fifth year player recovers from an eye injury. 2011 NBA Champion Jason Terry showed up against his former team. JET had 19 points, easily a season high. The Rockets without Dwight Howard,Donatas Motiejunas and Patrick Beverley had three double digit scorers. The Mavs without Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons and JaVale McGee had twice as many, six in double figures.
The Mavs scored a season-high 57 first half points, with 53 in the second. The Rockets shot 38.1 percent.
Final: Dallas Mavericks 110 (6-4), Houston Rockets 98 (4-6)
Mavericks: Raymond Felton, 23
Rockets: James Harden, 25 (2nd in NBA; 28.4)
Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 9
Rockets: Clint Capela, 10
Mavericks: J.J. Barea, 8
Rockets: James Harden, 10
Mavericks: Charlie Villanueva, 3 (seriously!)
Rockets: Terrence Jones, 3
Mavericks: Deron Williams & J.J. Barea, 2
Rockets: Trevor Ariza, 3
Mavericks: John Jenkins, +15 (!)
Rockets: Jason Terry, +7
Next Game: Monday, November 16th @ Philadelphia 76ers, 6:00 PM
Next Home Game: Friday, November 20th vs. Utah Jazz, 7:30 PM