It’s a make or miss league, and tonight, the Houston Rockets had their worst three-point shooting night of the season, while the Dallas Mavericks got a red, hot shooting night from Rocket-killer Tim Hardaway and a Luka-like performance from Luka Doncic to down the Rockets 113-100.
Hardaway finished with 30 points and 7 rebounds on 11-14 shooting from the field and 8-10 from deep, while Luka had his best game of the season so far, going for 33 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists, and Houston just couldn’t quite keep up.
Despite Dallas being on the second night of a back-to-back, it was actually the Rockets who came out sluggish and listless to start the game, and they struggled to find their rhythm against a plethora of foul calls, including two early technicals on DeMarcus Cousins, and one that was highly questionable that got Cousins ejected to set the tone for the night.
The Rockets were down 33-21 after one quarter and 61-49 at the break, but showed some gumption to battle back in the third quarter to get within 72-70 at one point, and then tied the game at 85 with about 10 minutes to go in the fourth, but with both James Harden and John Wall having off nights shooting the ball, Houston just couldn’t hang with the Mavs down the stretch.
The Rockets shot just 39 percent overall as a team and were just 11-40 from beyond the arc tonight, and you’re not gonna beat many teams shooting it that way. Dallas did play some pretty good defense at times, but the Rockets also missed a lot of shots they normally make, and that told the story of the game.
Christian Wood led all Houston scorers with 23 points, 7 rebounds, a steal, and a block on 8-15 from the field, but he was 0-5 from deep. Harden finished with 21 points, 10 assists, and 2 steals, but he was just 5-17 from the field and 3-11 from three. He was consistently trapped and doubled by the Mavs, and the Rockets just weren’t able to make Dallas pay, as Harden’s backcourt running mate John Wall finished with his worst game so far as a Rocket, going for just 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, on 4-10 from the field and 1-3 from deep.
In addition, the Rockets got 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists from Eric Gordon, but no other Houston player finished in double figures. Cousins actually looked like he was prime for a big night dominating the Dallas reserves, going for 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks in just 3 minutes of action before he was ejected. It was a pivotal moment in the game.
You have these kind of shooting nights in the NBA, and Houston’s defense simply isn’t tight enough yet at this juncture to make up for the nights when they have these shooting lapses, though the D did shows glimpses at times of what we might expect, forcing 15 total turnovers from the Mavs and really looking like they put it together in the third before the bottom fell out in the fourth quarter.
Houston falls to 2-3 on the season, and 2-1 with the meat of their roster playing. They return to action on Wednesday night at the Indiana Pacers.