The Rockets bench combined for 47 points in a win that finally showed us that Houston can make the necessary stops down the stretch and finish big plays in crunch time.
Josh Smith and Terrence Jones showed up to play, leading the bench with 18 and 10 points, respectively, and shooting a combined 11-for-21 from the field.
Both players had key blocks late in the fourth quarter to sustain Houston's lead—Smith against Tyson Chandler and Jones against Monta Ellis; Josh Smith also finished a well-planned inbounds play with less than a minute to go that resulted in an easy layup and solidified the W for the men in red.
Terrence Jones says get that outta here while maybe fouling, but goes in box score as block https://t.co/XouFLauSnY— Jason Marcum (@marcum89) January 29, 2015
And let's not forget the three pointers.
Josh Smith shot four-of-five from the three-point line.
Yes, somehow four of his shots from behind the arc went in the basket. I can't believe it either.
Unsurprisingly, Smith tied his career high in three-pointers made. He finished the game with three blocks, six rebounds and two assists, shooting 7-of-13 from the field.
Not the Josh Smith shot chart I’m used to. pic.twitter.com/MH9lnYXo8u— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 29, 2015
Smith simply couldn't miss. And in the process, he made the Dallas defense look absolutely foolish; He was more wide open than he has been all season, and, finally, he knocked down some big shots (even though I still screamed "NOOO NOOO NOOO" every time he threw something up).
Smith's four threes may have taken the spotlight this game, but the best thing Rockets fans saw tonight was from the play of Terrence Jones.
In 20 minutes, Jones put up 10 points and 5 rebounds on four-of-eight shooting from the field, one-for-two from three. Even though he looked out of shape and was exhausted after three minutes on the court, his body was moving well and he looked pain-free.
Jones had been sidelined since November 3rd due to nerve damage in his left leg. He even played some pretty decent defense on Dirk Nowitzki, who looked extremely passive tonight and only shot 4-of-11 for 14 points.
The Dream Shake's own Armin Khansari correctly predicted the advantage the Rockets bench had over the Mavericks, as well as James Harden's dominance over Monta Ellis. But I think we were all surprised to see the game that Rajon Rondo had, as he shot 0-for-7 from the field and also looked very passive. He did, however, play some decent defense on Harden towards the end of regulation, but he was simply too small for The Beard's patented step-back jumper.
In the end, it was nice to see that the Rockets can beat a really good Western Conference team without Dwight Howard. Joey Dorsey took his place in the starting lineup, but it was certainly Josh Smith and Terrence Jones who stepped up in his absence, while Donatas Motiejunas added 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Something to improve for Houston is their field-goal percentage: The Rockets shot 40 percent from the field. They also shot 40 percent from the three-point line. It's never a good thing when your three-point percentage is the same as your field-goal percentage, but the Rockets didn't have the regular alley-oops and clean-up buckets without Howard hanging around the rim.
Next Game: Rockets @ Boston Celtics, January 30th