The Dallas Mavericks Big Three dominated Houston tonight in their first game since the All-Star break ended.
No, not Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis or even Chandler Parsons.
Tonight, the Dallas Big Three was Devin Harris, Al-Farouq Aminu and Charlie Villanueva.
The Mavericks 2nd unit features a set with Devin Harris, Richard Jefferson, & Charlie Villanueva. Is it 2005?— Allon Freiman (@homeallon) February 20, 2015
To start the game, the Rockets were killing the Mavericks, thanks to the shooting abilities, or lack thereof, of Rajon Rondo.
Houston completely ignored Rondo on defense. The ball was moving well on offense and things were looking good. That is, until Devin Harris entered the game.
Harris opened up the Dallas offense while Houston panicked, and the turnovers began a'coming.
Ex-Maverick, and arguably the second best player on their 2011 championship team, Jason Terry couldn't find the bottom of the net upon entering the game. James Harden got in early foul trouble, which meant we'd see a lot of Terry running around, trying to keep up with his man throughout the first half.
Terry made sure we were losing before the second quarter.
Did I mention he was an ex-Maverick? Eight years there?
The additions of Pablo Prigioni and K.J. McDaniels cannot suit up soon enough because God knows JET plays too much.
Let's be honest, he's old, slow and small.
Terry has been shooting an impressive 39.0 percent from the three-point arc this season, but he's shooting less than three percent better from the field. His field-goal percentage is 41.8 for the season and 36.8 so far for the month of February. He averages over a turnover per game in 21 minutes of play and gets obliterated on defense.
Don't get me wrong, I love Jason Eugene. Even when he was in Dallas and known as a Rockets killer, he couldn't miss in the 2011 playoffs, and it was amazing.
But that was almost four years ago.
Prigioni shot 46 percent from deep last season for the New York Knicks. McDaniels is an athletic freak.
It'll be interesting to see how much playing time Coach McHale gives the new guys. He refused to play Isaiah Canaan (over Terry) so it's anyone's guess as to how much time we'll see them on the court.
Donatas Motiejunas, 7-feet tall, missed a layup over 6-foot J.J. Barea. That's what kind of night tonight was for the Rockets.
The Mavericks started playing better basketball in the first half when Rondo went to the bench. Houston knew to pack the paint with Rondo on the court, literally daring him to take a jump shot.
But it was Harris who got the Mavericks going.
Harris was getting to the rim at will, and no one could stay in front of him for more than two seconds. The combination of Harris and Aminu off the bench was too much for the Rockets, who certainly looked like they had taken a week off from basketball. Because the turnovers were everywhere.
The Rockets average 16.9 turnovers per game, good enough for 29th-worst in the league, only ahead of the paltry Philadelphia 76ers. They had 21 tonight.
Kevin McHale on James Harden hand: "His wrist was wrapped when he was bleeding. He’s got a little cut. Hey, he went out there and played."— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) February 21, 2015
But Harden wouldn't give up.
Even after a Villenueva three that brought the Mavericks lead to 20 points.
Harden continued to work hard on both sides of the court and took some exceptionally hard fouls from Dirk Nowitzki and company.
Regardless, Harris was too much.
Surprising leader for Mavs - Devin Harris having himself a noche and a half. 17 pts 7 ast 6 reb 2 stl 3 treys— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) February 21, 2015
He took total control of the second unit, then the first, all while staying cool, confident and collected. He knew when to put on the speed and blow by his defender while also keeping in mind clock management.
Harris made Terry look like a fool tonight, who was constantly lost on defense and couldn't keep up with the man whom he used to back up.
Then, Ariza hit back-to-back threes to begin the fourth quarter, and suddenly it was a game again. Ariza went from being one-for-four from deep to three-for-six in about two minutes and sparked a run.
But here's why it wasn't the Rockets night, regardless of the impressive and improbable fourth-quarter run we went on:
When Charlie Villanueva scores more than 10 points against you it's not your night— Dano Mataya (@drmataya) February 21, 2015
Villenueva shot four-of-five tonight and connected on all three of his three-point attempts.
Charlie V. wasn't just making open shots tonight, he was draining contested jumpers, fadeaways, with his eyes closed, one handed while sleeping. He was ultra-confident in his shot tonight and finished with 13 points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
The Mavericks were literally going to Superstar Villanueva every play to start the fourth quarter, but after Chandler Parsons left the game after suffering a turned right angle, Charlie couldn't be counted on to handle the ball.
The Rockets were looking like a team who knew how to make the proper stops down the stretch and ran the fast break perfectly.
Terrence Jones brought the hustle tonight and fought for loose balls and position on the offensive boards like a mad man. He finished the game with nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes.
Ariza's three threes in the second half were instrumental for the Rockets comeback. But after his third make, 2015 Defensive Player of the Year Charlie Villanueva fouled the shit out of Harden, got an easy bucket for Aminu and all momentum soured.
Aminu, like Harris, was a difference maker tonight, particularly on the boards and defensive end. He finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting with two blocks.
The best Houston got was within five points, but they couldn't make enough shots down the stretch to come away with the win -- although they certainly had the opportunity but missed too many open jumpers.
Quick thought: As a Houston Man in general, how much do you think Bill Worrell hates the city of Dallas?
Two big problems tonight for the Rockets: too many turnovers (this has been a consistent problem) and too many missed easy buckets; It seems like everything was rattling out of the basket tonight.
Dallas' bench got the win tonight. Eight Mavs scored in double figures.
Houston had 18 turnovers through three quarters and simply dug themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of.
The Rockets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow, who destroyed the Atlanta Hawks tonight by 25 points in Atlanta. Otherwise, Houston has a lot of home games coming up and a relatively easy schedule: After Toronto is the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, all at home.
By the way, Kyle Lowry is returning to Houston tomorrow. Who thinks he comes with a vengeance?