Setting the Table: Houston Rockets (Game 60)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 6, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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The home-and-home series between the Dallas Mavericks (26-33) and the Houston Rockets (33-28) concludes with the showdown at the American Airlines Center. Houston has lost five consecutive trips to Dallas since an overtime win Dec. 18, 2009, a game Dirk Nowitzki left in the second quarter with an injury after scoring five points. Remember Carl Landry? A collision after a Dirk jumper let to Dirk having a gashed elbow and Landry with five cracked or knocked-out teeth. The Mavericks found pieces of two teeth imbedded in Nowitzki’s elbow and had to spend 30 minutes cleaning the cut.

Anyways, back to the point – Houston has lost five consecutive games in Dallas since 2009. That’s part of a key trend in this series since the start of 2005-06: Dallas is 22-2 when Nowitzki scores at least 15 points and 1-5 when he doesn’t, including two games he missed. Dallas simply has to run their offense through Dirk and force the action on the Rockets. With Houston taking the first game on Sunday in clobbering fashion, another loss by the Mavericks would destroy whatever hopes the team has left of making the playoffs.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Rockets.

Series Notes:

All that really matters is what happened in the last game, a 136-103 victory for the Rockets. Houston outshot Dallas 55.8 percent (24-of-43) to 53.5 percent (23-of-43) from the field in the first half and led 64-61 at the break. The Rockets began the third quarter on a major surge as they started it on a 15-0 run and outscored the Mavericks 44-17 in the period. Houston outscored Dallas 36-18 on the fast break and 54-44 in the paint. Turnovers once again plagued Dallas. The Mavericks committed 18 turnovers (for 32 points), while the Rockets recorded only 13 turnovers (for 10 points). Another issue for the Mavericks has been their consistent poor showing on the glass and that was the case again in the last game. Houston outrebounded Dallas, 45-32. The Rockets shot 30-of-40 (.750) from the free throw line, while the Mavericks went 15-of-24 (.625) from the line. The Mavericks out-shot the Rockets 56.3
percent (9-of-16) to 36.8 percent (7-of-19) from beyond the arc in the first half. But Houston outshot Dallas 46.7 percent (7-of-15) to 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from deep after intermission en route to the win.

Rockets forward Chandler Parsons went 12-of-13 from the field (6-of-7 from beyond the arc) and scored a career-high (game-high) 32 points in 30 minutes. The Rockets’ starting backcourt of Jeremy Lin (21 points and a game-high nine assists) and James Harden (21 points and seven assists) combined for 42 points and 16 assists.

It’s a Small World:

Rockets guard Jeremy Lin began his NBA career with the Mavericks’ Las Vegas summer league team in 2010. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle were teammates on the Boston Celtics from 1984-86 and won an NBA championship together in 1986. Mavericks big man Elton Brand is currently tied with McHale for 24th place on the NBA’s all-time blocks list with 1,690 career rejections.

Mavericks guard Mike James had two stints with Houston. He played in 27 games with Houston in 2004-05, and 33 games with the Rockets in 2007-08.

Rockets player development coach Greg Buckner played for the Mavericks from 1999-2002 and again in 2006-07.

Vince Carter (Daytona Beach), Dominique Jones (Lake Wales) and Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (Casselberry) were all born in Florida.

Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith and Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones worked together on the athletic training staff for the U.S. Sr. National Basketball program from 2006-2008 (2006 World Championships, 2007 Olympic Qualifying, 2008 Summer Olympics).

Three Keys:

1. Defend the 3-point line. Houston leads the league in 3-pointers made and ranks eighth in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage (.370) through Mar. 4. The Rockets have actually hit 10-plus 3-pointers a game 35 times in 2012-13 (Rockets record: 24-11), which stands as the team’s most such games within a single season over the last 25 years (since 1988).

2. Find a way to control the pace. Houston stands first in the NBA in points per game (107.0) through Mar. 4. They averaged 96.3 possessions per 48 minutes. The Denver Nuggets rank second in the league in terms of pace at 95.0 possessions per 48 minutes (-1.3 possessions). The deficit of 1.3 between first and second would equal the deficit between Denver and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who rank eighth in the league in terms of pace. Dallas must do whatever it takes to avoid having the game turn into windshield wiper basketball.

3. Have a second defender emerge. Shawn Marion was used as a defensive weapon for James Harden early in the game on Sunday. The result saw Chandler Parsons go off in the first half. Dallas needs someone, mainly O.J. Mayo, step up on the defensive end of the floor.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.