The Rockets played perhaps their best game of the season, starting off hot from deep and letting James Harden carry them down the final stretch for a 100-96 exciting, see-saw road win against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Rockets came out of the gates gunning from downtown, as Patrick Beverley knocked down 3 threes in the first 6 minutes to get the Rockets out to a 15-8 lead, but in what would be a theme all night long, the Mavs battled back with a run of their own to take the lead.
The back and forth continued into the second period, as the Rockets stayed red hot from deep with Trevor Ariza knocking down several triples to lead the Rockets on a 17-2 run and a 46-36 lead midway through the quarter. The Rockets were playing hard and playing with passion, and for the first time this season, really looked like they were enjoying being on the court together.
The Mavs weren't done though, as they chipped away at the lead behind Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams to get within 4 points at 57-53 at the half.
Houston hit a blistering 11-18 from beyond the arc in the first half to set the pace, with Beverley shooting 4-4 from deep for 12 points, and Trevor Ariza knocking down 3 threes for 11 points to help offset James Harden's slow start of only 7 points on 3-12 shooting.
The Rockets came out in the third determined to win the game on defense and quickly extended the lead to 9, but the team went suddenly cold from deep, and Nowitzki and Williams once again stepped up, this time to lead the Mavs on a 10-0 run to get back the lead.
As the period wound down, the tit-for-tat raged on, with James Harden slowly starting to heat up to help keep pace with the Mavs, and the third frame ended with the teams tied at 78.
Things stayed neck-and-neck into the fourth, until James Harden took over down the stretch. First, he put the Rockets up 94-90 with a ridiculous 3-point play with under 4 mins left.
Then, as the Mavs battled back one more time to tie the game at 96, Harden found Terrence Jones wide open on a gorgeous pass underneath the bucket to put the Rockets up 98-96, then sealed the victory with a jumper and generous rim bounce with just 7 seconds left for your final tally of 100-96.
It was exciting, the Rockets played hard, and for maybe the first time this season, it really felt like Rockets basketball. Harden led the Rockets with 25 points on 10-23 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds and 9 assists, while Trevor Ariza had 18 points, 6 rebound and 4 steals on 7-10 shooting, including 4-7 from deep.
Terrence Jones had another strong game against Dallas, putting up 17 points on 7-12 shooting and grabbing 9 rebounds, and Patrick Beverley also finished with double figures, scoring 14 points on a perfect 4-4 from three.
There were still too many turnovers (18) and the fall off from deep in second half was troubling- the Rockets hit only one triple after their hot first half shooting- but they appear to be finally, after long last, coming together as a team, as they've now won 4 out of their last 5 games.
Williams led the Mavs with 22 points, and Nowitzki pitched in 16 points and 10 boards.
The Rockets move to 9-11 and play again tomorrow night at home against the Sacramento Kings and look for a 3-game win streak.