The Rockets completed the four-game sweep of their division rival, the Dallas Mavericks, in a 123-107 win in Dallas tonight. This is the first time Houston has swept Dallas since the 1997-98 season.
Houston started off strong with an 18-4 run to begin the game, but Dallas’s 14-0 run shrunk the lead and Dallas eventually overtook Houston in the first quarter. The first quarter ended up tied at 31, but from that moment on, the Rockets took over. They never trailed after the first and had a lead as large as 29 points.
The starting lineup looked a little different for Houston tonight as Nene got the start at center and Corey Brewer started in place of Patrick Beverley, who was out with an injury. Despite Beverley’s absence, the intensity of the game was not lost. The referees were like Oprah handing out technical fouls. You get a T, you get a T, you get a T, everybody gets a T! Trevor Ariza had two technicals go his way and was ejected right before the start of the fourth quarter.
The T-Party started at the beginning of the second half after a lot of chippiness from both sides in the first half. However, Houston was responding well to the above-average physical play; Dallas was not. When you are down 20 points and are in last place in the Western Conference, you just need to put your head down and just play. The Mavs were able to overcome a large deficit in the first quarter, and could have possibly done the same in the third quarter, but they let the mental part of the game get to them. The Rockets stooped down to their competition again tonight. There is no reason Ariza should have been ejected and some of the technicals were simply childish. If I were in Dallas’s shoes, I would be pissed and disappointed with my team. However, I’m a Houston fan, and my team is sitting pretty at 24-9 and third place in the west. The fouls are unnecessary, but a win's a win and I will gladly take this one against one of our biggest rivals.
Dallas had 21 from Harrison Barnes and 19 from Wesley Matthews, and Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut did not play in the second half due to minutes restrictions. Leading the way for Houston was again, James Harden with 34 and 11 assists, Ryan Anderson with 22 points, and Sam Dekker with 9 points and 11 boards. I also want to single out Sam Dekker for the play of the night, sneaking up and getting the putback #SlamDekker on a free throw.
I absolutely love the hustle from this team and a game like this makes you appreciate the team’s competitiveness and grit. Even without our grittiest player, there was plenty of hustle to go around, and it’s great to see that night in and night out.
Hopefully the Rockets will bring that same mentality to their game against the Clippers on Friday, losers of three straight. It’s a big game for the Western Conference standings and another rivalry game. Tipoff is at 7 CT Friday.