It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win, and they all count the same in the standings. The Houston Rockets were a bit sluggish Sunday night against the Dallas Mavericks, having a severe case of Frankenstein feet, especially on the defensive end, but they had enough to down the shorthanded Mavs anyway, defeating their cross-state rivals 104-97 for their eighth straight victory.
James Harden finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals, while Chris Paul had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals to lead the Rockets, and it was their play in the second half in particular that spearheaded the Houston victory. And the Rockets sure needed it after the way they played in the first half.
The Rockets went into the half up on the 18-win Mavs just 57-55, and a lack of offensive movement combined with some lead-footed defense and a failure to box out to make this game much close than expected.
The Rockets were able to pull away in the second half behind their two stars, however, and the Mavs simply had no one to go tit-for-tat with The Beard and CP3.
Houston’s sloppy play was evident throughout, however. They gave up 12 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points to Dallas, and the Rockets themselves had just 15 total assists on the night, illustrating the lack of energy they played with. They also shot just 13-45 from beyond the arc, and should consider themselves lucky that Dallas had no real threats to take over the game available tonight. The Rockets were ripe for the picking.
Sometimes, those are the best wins, however, and in a long, arduous, NBA season, winning a ton of games as the Rockets are doing often takes a little luck to go along with talent, even against the bad teams, and Houston was able to sneak past the Mavs when it counted down the stretch.
In addition to Harden and Paul, the Rockets also got 16 points, 11 rebounds, ad 3 blocks from Clint Capela, and they also got 12 points from Gerald Green to round out the Houston players in double figures. Green scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
Dallas received 20 points from Yogi Ferrell, 18 points and 12 rebounds from Dwight Powell, 16 points from Dennis Smith Jr., 11 from Harrison Barnes amd 10 from Max Kleber.
The Rockets now move to 42-13 on the season and stay just a half game back of the Golden State Warriors for first place in the Western Conference. They’ll be off tomorrow night before returning to action on Tuesday with a big road contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T’wolves sit in fourth place out West, so it should be an intriguing match of two playoff-bound squads.
The Rockets won by 18 the first time those two teams met earlier this year at the Toyota Center, so it’ll be interesting to see if they have the Wolves’ number in Minny as well.