by mavsluvr at 01-05-2021, 01:51 AM
MAVERICKS MORE THAN A MATCH FOR ROCKETS
Woo-hoo! Any night when the Mavs beat the Rockets is a great night! After a mediocre game against Chicago, our guys came back with a vengeance, and won a decisive victory over a quality opponent.
Luka returned from his night off, and his left quad looked to have made a quick recovery. Danuel House was out for Houston, but James Harden re-entered the fray after missing the previous game.
Rick decided a change in the starting lineup was in order, and Willie and Maxi came on in place of Powell and Tim. Boucek said they thought they needed a bigger squad against the Rox, and also wanted to emphasize defense, rebounding, versatility, quickness and switch-ability. Carlisle said that he took both Dwight and Tim out because if he removed only one of them, it would look too much like he was blaming that player for the problems, and that wasn’t the message he intended. I would venture to guess that he wanted to get Powell into a smaller role, and did it in this tactful way, but at any rate, the experiment was a success, at least for this game.
The Mavs got off to a great start, taking the lead on a Doe-Doe and-one dunk, and never trailing again. They were ahead 33-21 after one. Luka was able to play all twelve minutes, and led all scorers with 12 points.
The second period began with Boogie giving Willie a shove, and both players getting T’d up. During the next three minutes or so, Cousins was more or less destroying the Mavs with rebounds, blocks, and scores. At 9:07, he was annoyed at a non-call, and threw a dismissive arm in the referee’s direction, only to earn his second technical and an ejection! Personally, I thought it was a tad harsh, but I wasn’t complaining.
Our team went on a tear of missing shots and turning the ball over right and left, and the lead dwindled to 2 at 6:53. The score remained close, until the Mavs went on a 14-6 run to close the half. The quarter was not lacking drama. Both Maxi and DFS were called for their third fouls before the period was up, and Coach Darrell Armstrong received a technical foul for some infraction from the bench. Halftime score: Mavs 61, Rox 49.
The third began with Willie throwing down two dunks from Luka and earning a trip to the free throw line. The lead was up to 18 at 10:07, but in the process, Maxi incurred his fourth foul. Harden joined the tech-fest at 10:07. By 5:22, the Mavs had committed 4 more turnovers, and the lead was down to 12. The refs invited Luka to the T party, I think for bumping his defender on a play. At 4:44, Powell had a nice block of a Harden floater from behind, followed by a steal. Unfortunately, the refs fingered Luka for an offensive foul, and the team couldn’t capitalize.
James Johnson caught Tate in the face as he was going up for a basket, knocking his mouthpiece onto the floor. A review of the foul upgraded it to a flagrant 1. The Mavs missed some more shots, Josh had his fourth foul, and by 2:26, an 18-point lead had shriveled to 1. Fortunately, Dallas managed a 9-3 run to end the quarter. 84-77. I was on pins and needles, worried that the Mavs might squander their slender lead.
The fourth began inauspiciously, with Burke fouling Eric Gordon on a late-clock shot thirty feet from the basket. Eric took advantage with three makes at the line. The Rockets tied the game at 10:00, and brought the score within 2 points at 6:41. Maxi committed his fifth foul at 4:13, and Josh fouled out in the last minute. But the Mavs closed the game strong, and the Rockets went cold. What a satisfying win!
Numbers. How great is it to see the Mavs make their shots?!! They boasted 53% shooting inside the arc, 41% from deep, and a stellar 95% from the line. Point differentials between the teams had Dallas +8 on points from twos, +15 on points from threes, and -10 on made free throws. Houston took 36 free throw attempts, compared to 20 for the Mavs, but the Rox missed seven of their freebies. The Mavs earned a 51-35 rebounding advantage, and scored 22 second-chance points, capitalizing on 9 of their 10 opportunities. On the dimmer side, Dallas had an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers, losing 23 points in the process.
Doncic. LUKAAAAAA!!! The young star looked like he was back in form, and he put up his first triple-double of the season with 33 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists -- season highs in every category. Carlisle reminded everyone of the great work Luka has done getting his conditioning up to snuff, after coming in behind the curve due to not realizing the season was starting so early. Such an amazing performance! Not only did he have a great line, but he put in a good defensive shift. He was on Harden for stretches, and was up to the task. Luka, perhaps most of all, raises the play of his teammates, and if the Rockets didn’t know that before the game, they do now!
Hardaway. OMG! Who saw this coming after the Bulls game? Tim had 30 points off the bench, completing 11 of 14 shots (8 of 10 threes!), and bringing down 7 rebounds. He and Luka were there to get the team through so many tight spots, and Tim’s contribution was spectacular. He had many breathtaking shots -- I think my favorite was a leaning fallaway three at the end of the shot clock. Rick raved about him, calling his performance “tremendous,” “phenomenal,” and “terrific,” adding that it exhibited Tim’s “strong character.” He added that Hardaway had shown “laser-like concentration” and was “great at both ends.” Tim’s best game as a Mav that I can recall. Coach Boucek commended him for handling his assignment to the bench in a very professional manner, coming out aggressive, and being “awesome” all night long. She said that the Mavs want to play with both big and small lineups this season, and Tim fits in well with both. She added that someone besides Luka has to step up for the Mavs offensively in every game, and that the team had been able to ride Tim's hot hand in this match-up.
Cauley-Stein. Willie was a revelation in his starting role, playing 24 minutes, and putting up 15 points and 7 boards. He was the lob partner that Luka has been missing, and ran the floor consistently. Coach Jenny (who worked with WCS in Sacramento) was very pleased, calling his play “fantastic,” and praising his physical game, rolling, running, and intensity. She described him as a “very intelligent man,” and revealed that he is a poet and an artist. She thinks he loves this unstructured style of play because it gives him a chance to express himself creatively. Willie himself said the only way he knew he was starting was when Rick read out the lineups, and he didn’t know why Rick had made the change, but he had rolled with it, lol.
Game Impacts. All of the starters, along with Tim, had positive +/- ratings, ranging from 15 to 28. The rest of the bench were in various degrees of negative territory, having played during most of the Houston runs. However, Carlisle thought Powell had been “terrific,” and the unit as a whole had “bent but not broken.” Leading scorers on the night were Luka 31, Tim 30, and Willie and Josh with 15 apiece.
Rockets. This had to have been an embarrassing night for the Rox, but they were actually a worthy opponent. New center Christian Wood led their scorers with 23 points. Harden followed with 21, along with Gordon 20 and Wall 14. Boucek said they had a detailed game plan for this match. WCS said it involved guarding Harden “from the side,” so as to limit his trips to the free throw line. Tim said he didn’t want to get in trouble for divulging anything, and allowed that Harden probably “just had an off night,” lol.
Referees. I never like to make the refs part of the story, but I think this case requires it. This was a very oddly officiated game. Six technical fouls were assessed, some of them seeming pretty soft. Offensive fouls were also being called all over the place, and the referees started calling the game much more strictly in an abrupt fashion after the double techs, although I wouldn't describe the play as especially chippy. Rick thought his guys adjusted well to the officiating, and Boucek thought they showed resilience in working through it.
Rick thought the effort from the team was exceptional, and hinted that they were eager to redeem themselves after Chicago. He considered it a defensive accomplishment to hold the normally high-scoring Rockets to 100 points. He says defense is going to be their signature this season, and he thinks they took a step forward in this match, making a statement with their defensive disposition.
I thought this game was a breath — make that a strong gust — of fresh air. Luka looked like his old self, the team looked more like the successful Mavs, and the 48 minutes featured standout performances from several guys who had been struggling a bit. I was not quite sure what to make of the previous six games, but this one looked like something they can build on. YAY!!!!
See all you Maverick fans after the Denver game!! GO MAVS!!