James Harden still didn’t look quite himself, but he looked much better, going for 35 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals, while Russell Westbrook put up 32 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 steals in leading the Houston Rockets to a 128-121 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Beard looked more engaged than he has in a week or two, though he still shot just 10-25 from the field. He did go 6-14 from deep and 9-10 from the line, so perhaps he’s slowly coming out of the funk that’s plagued him since the calendar changed over to 2020. He was obviously fantastic grabbing boards, and he hit 2 huge threes down the fourth-quarter stretch to ice the game for the Rockets and keep the Mavs from making a final push after they got within three points midway through the final period.
Russ was 13-25 from the field, and though he wasn’t perfect either, he continued to push the pace and took just one three-pointer on the night and turned the ball over just once, playing mostly in control. In fact, the Rockets turned the ball over just 6 times total on the night, a huge contributing factor to edging out this win, as the Mavs finished with 17 turnovers.
Dallas was playing without Luka Doncic, and though they were down double-digits (as many as 18) for large chunks of the game, they rallied behind Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with 35 points and 12 boards, and took advantage of Houston’s penchant for letting teams back in the game to keep things close at the end.
Houston’s defense was decent at times and not so much for other periods, and they allowed Dallas to shoot 48 percent from the field and 14-36 from deep. That continues to be the Rockets’ Achilles heal, and it was exacerbated tonight with Clint Capela out and the Rockets going small.
P.J. Tucker started at the five and was invisible on the stat sheet, finishing with just 6 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and 1 steal, and he was only mediocre on defense tonight as well. Backup center Isaiah Hartenstein continues to be inexplicably glued to the bench, when he could have been of use tonight in putting a big body on Porzingis.
Nevertheless, the Rockets snag a victory, and they also received impressive performances from Eric Gordon, who finished with 17 points on 6-13 shooting, Danuel House, who had 14 points, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, while also getting bench production from the guys D’Antoni did actually play.
Ben McLemore finished with 13 points on 5-9 from the field and 3-6 from deep, and he provided a major spark in the first half. Austin Rivers, on the other hand, did most of his damage in the second half and finished with 9 points on 3-4 shooting from deep.
As for the Mavs, after Porzingis, they also got 16 from Seth Curry, 15 from Tim Hardaway Jr., 12 from Dorian Finney-Smith, 11 from J.J. Barea (also 9 assists), and 10 from Delon Wright.
This was a big win for Houston, who came into tonight tied with Dallas in the Western Conference standings. They’re now 30-18 on the season, in sole possession of fifth place in the West, three games back of the second seed, and now off until Sunday.
They’ll return to the Toyota Center for a nationally televised contest (ABC) against the New Orleans Pelicans in the Sunday afternoon game (1:00pm CST).