It's an ugly score, no doubt, but last night's loss to Dallas was no mail-in from the Rockets. Sometimes, as Houston fans well know, there's no answer for hot shooting.
The thirteen turnovers hurt, but Dallas had fourteen. The twenty-two fouls may seem a bit much, but Dallas had twenty-eight. Look no further than the Mavericks' true shooting percentage of sixty-five percent to find a large chunk of why they were victorious. Seven of twelve from three? Twenty-two of twenty-three on free throws? That's called execution.
For much of the first half, however, it was the Rockets that were finding automatic offense. Dallas kept the pace relatively slow, but Houston attacked the paint effectively and got the easy points, as they often do. Luis Scola got off to an excellent start, and Aaron Brooks was driving and scoring at will. Houston picked up the pace to finish the quarter, shooting sixty-four percent en route to a nine point lead.
As the second quarter progressed, the Mavericks found themselves avoiding their stars, as James Singleton and Drew Gooden were taking the majority of the shots. Carl Landry began to dominate the paint in place of Chuck Hayes, and so too did David Andersen. At this point, Houston was sitting pretty.
Suddenly, and most expectedly, The Dirk awoke.
Nowitzki started to make his jumpers, found ways to get to the free throw line, and drove by Landry multiple times to jumpstart the Mavericks to an 18-5 run to end the quarter. Houston missed eight of their last ten shots as Erick Dampier and Nowitzki began shutting down the paint.
In the second half, Dallas used the entire floor to find opportunities to score, while Houston found themselves forcing up long two's. Three pointers weren't falling, and the paint was practically off limits. Guys like Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier began to get frustrated and never found a rhythm on offense - it was probably Ariza's worst offensive game with the Rockets to date.
JJ Barea began to assume Brooks' role as the free-wheeling driving machine. This, while Brooks scored his final point of the game with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter. It was all Mavericks from then on out, as they held the Rockets to thirteen third-quarter points and picked up easy points on the fast break. We began to see a lot of this:
Never is this a good thing. Never.
I'm not normally one to question Rick Adelman's decision-making, but I'm curious as to why he gave up on Brooks so quickly. So what if he missed a few shots to end the third? He had been our go-to scorer from the start, and while Kyle Lowry played well, we missed Brooks as a deep threat. Aaron's benching could have been due to his failure to move the ball around (he only had one assist), but up to that point, it hadn't been too much of a problem. Either that, or he was injured, as Jason Friedman tweeted. Knowing Rick, it was probably the latter.
On the whole ball-movement deal, it was evident who was more comfortable in their offense in the second half. Dallas piled up twenty-seven assists compared to the Rockets' sixteen. Houston got caught up in the isolation game, whether it was on the block or at the top of the key. Obviously, outside of Brooks, isolation is not the Rockets' friend.
The Rocket-Killer made a belated appearance, but once Jason Terry started getting looks in the second half, you knew he was going to knock them down. I've given up trying to come up with a good reason to explain Terry's dominance against the Rockets. He's just born to destroy us. And it sucks.
Aaron Brooks -- 22 points, 2 reb, 2 ast, 2 TO. Brooks facilitated a brilliant first-half offense, only to be benched in the fourth quarter by Adelman. Still not sure why this happened - either injury or Adelman preferred Lowry.
Carl Landry -- 19 points, 2 reb. Landry played his game, facing up in the post and collecting hustle points. His hook shot is starting to look pretty as well. The two rebounds have to be somewhat of a downer, though.
Kyle Lowry -- 12 points, 4 reb, 5 ast. The Bulldog had a very effective second half, driving to the rim with tenacity to rack up double-digit points. However, Lowry did have five turnovers, and his defense on JJ Barea was not the greatest that we've seen from him.
Shane Battier -- 3 points, 3 ast. I'm not a big believer in +/-, but Shane "led" the Rockets with -24. His shot wasn't there from the start, as he missed multiple wide-open threes.
Chase Budinger -- 4 pts, 9 reb. I'll give Chase credit for pulling down nine boards; that's impressive from a rookie small forward. But he never found a rhythm with his shot. Like Battier, though, Chase will have his off nights. Every shooter does.
Trevor Ariza -- 9 points, 5 reb, 2 stl. Trevor has been hesitant to shoot the three of late. He's been shot-faking awkwardly, only to drive against two defenders. While I like the aggressiveness, Trevor needs to be more confident in shooting the three.
Next Game: Tomorrow night vs. Memphis