Playoff hopes may be officially over, but don’t tell Kevin Martin and the Houston Rockets. The heavily underhanded Rockets (No Scola or Lowry) were a few seconds away from stealing a win from the three-seed Dallas Mavericks Monday night. Houston might not have much to play for, but Dallas is fighting for positioning in what is set to be a must-watch Western Conference playoffs.
As I mentioned, Houston was without offensive weapons Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry. Well, I guess if you are out of the playoffs, it wouldn’t hurt to see how others players perform. Goran Dragic and Patrick Patterson replaced the two in the starting lineup, and on paper it was no match. In fact, I think only Kevin Martin was the only regular starter in the lineup for the Rockets Monday night.
The Rockets only played seven players last night, and it was clear from the get go…if you get the ball, shoot it. Whenever Courtney Lee, Brad Miller, and Chuck Hayes throw up a combined 37 shots for a measly 34 points, it’s surprising that Houston nearly won this game. Thanks to the play of Kevin Martin (28 points) and Goran Dragic (15 pts), Houston was able to hang tough and nearly steal this win from their in-state rival.
Jumping ahead, Houston led 71-67 heading into the fourth quarter of play. Both teams alternated baskets throughout the quarter until Dirk gave Dallas its first lead in nearly 30 minutes, sinking two free throws to make it 82-81. Despite only shooting 29% from the field in the fourth quarter, Houston managed to keep it close and give Dallas everything they could handle. Capped off by an And-1 layup by Courtney Lee with 10 seconds on the clock, Houston regained the lead 86-85.
Then Dallas was bailed out. Feeding the hot hand Jason terry (21 points on the night), Terry danced around the three point line until finally drawing a shooting foul on Chuck Hayes with only 1.5 seconds left. Terry only made one of his free throws, setting the stage for some extra basketball. Come overtime, Dallas’ depth would come into play, outscoring the seven active Rockets players 12-5 in Overtime, and cruising to a 98-91 victory.
Dallas tried all it could to giftwrap this game for the depleted Rockets, but thanks to the new 2011 Dallas defense, the Mavs were able to hang in long enough for the win. It’s not everyday where a team can commit 20 turnovers, shoot abysmal from three (4-17), and get outrebounded (52-49), and still manage to come out with a victory.
From a Houston perspective, Goran Dragic and the Rockets played great without having arguably their two most efficient offensive players (no offense K-Mart.) As for the Mavs, with this win they draw slightly closer to the 2nd seed in the West. Depending on the outcome of tonight’s Spurs-Lakers game, Dallas could be sitting pretty at the 2 seed or will have a battle on their hands at the three seed. If the season were to end today, Dallas would be up against Portland Trailblazers, and as a Mavs fan, this possibility terrifies me! I would MUCH rather play a depleted Hornets team in round 1, or an Gay-less Grizzlies team with little-to-no playoff experience. But to face the Portland Trailblazers! If it were to happen today, I would say Portland wins that series in six. And y’all thought I was a homer.
Since the acquisition of Gerald Wallace, Dallas is 0-2 vs. Portland despite shooting 49% and 60% in each game. This is me worried.