Kevin McHale and his staff are going to have a lot to talk about at practice tomorrow. What started as a competitive exposition amongst division rivals quickly slipped into turmoil and chaos for the Houston Rockets. The Dallas veterans were unprepared for a run and gun Houston team, but their rebuttal was more than enough to flummox the Rockets. Houston has a total of two players above 26 years old on the roster and the last two games have demonstrated that this team has a long way to go in regards to dealing with bad times. The Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki, but O.J. Mayo (7-12, 20 points), Shawn Marion (6-11, 15 points), Vince Carter (6-10, 15 points) and Chris Kaman (11 rebounds, 3 blocks) stepped up to the plate, and then some.
Things were going about as well as one could expect during the first half. Kevin Martin, who finished with 23 points, could not be guarded. The Rockets were really exercising their mandate to run the court and the three ball was falling. McHale decided to throw Royce White into the mix early on in the first half. In White's first few minutes as a Rocket, he was able to block a shot and that was about it. Rolls Royce was moving a couple of steps behind the rest of the game. The few times Royce was given a chance on offense in the first half, he wasn't in a position to play to his strengths. O.J. Mayo almost matched Kevin Martin point for point, most of those points coming in the first half. Mayo really had the odds in his favor tonight whether he was left open at the arc or whether he was dared to bring the ball inside. Patrick Patterson was contributing mainly in a much needed garbage man capacity. The transition offense was panning out. Houston was noticeably more inspired on the break than Dallas and the Rockets were able to make the Mavs pay.
Omer Asik was again fantastic. I'm pretty sure all five of his offensive rebounds came in the first half. I'm far from the first to make this comparison, but Scott Machado reminds me of a slower, less turnover prone, and worse defending version of Ish Smith. At half time, Houston lead by 1 point.
In the third quarter, Houston shit the bed. After a brief, welcomed run by Kevin Martin the Rockets lost all of their composure. What started as a mild case of bad offense and lazy defense ended in a 20 to nothing run by Dallas. Rick Carlisle decided to give us a taste of our own medicine. Houston lethargically struggled to keep up with the Mavericks on the fast break and settled for weak perimeter jump shot after jump shot on offense. There was an epidemic of sloppiness; Houston was easily beaten off the dribble and the defense was far from a team effort. I'm getting increasingly worried about Houston's ability to recover this season when things look glum.
Eventually, Houston's offense deflated into something slightly more cohesive. By the end of the third the Rockets had slowed the run but never came close to recovering the game. The Mavericks were literally bobbling the ball during their generic offensive sets and we couldn't manage to respond.
Royce White got his first three points in the NBA all at once with an old fashioned coast-to-coast three point play. After converting the contested lay up, White looked more comfortable in his uniform. He brought the ball up a couple times, made some smart passes, and hit a jump shot.
Opposing rookie forward Jae Crowder had a great game and Royce White dared him to shoot the three ball; Crowder delivered.
Jeremy Lamb was average (7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals). He rebounded well but his passing was hit or miss. He had two dumb turnovers trying to set up the offense.
Chandler Parsons scored the ball well (5-9, 12 points) in his 22 minutes.
Edit: Jeremy Lin was given the night off to rest.
Strange update: According to ESPN, Delonte West was suspended by head coach Rick Carlisle after last night's game following an outburst in the locker room.
The bottom line:
Most of our team's best players are young and we have got to fully expect some growing pains during the beginning of the season. Adversity is not going to be kind to this team. Two of our most consistant and veteran players are 23 years old. This is a process and Kevin McHale is the right guy to escort this group of gifted basketball players from prospect to production. I can only hope that we get there sooner rather than later.
To the fans: what did you think of Monday night's game?