The Rockets turned a disaster into an exciting game before losing to the Dallas Mavericks 111-106 Thursday night.
Facing a 25-point deficit early into the second quarter it looked as though the Rockets were about to get blown out of the American Airlines Center. Houston looked outmatched, overpowered, and unprepared in the first half.
Where was the energy? Where was the hustle? Why is Chuck Hayes leading the team in scoring after the first quarter?
This was supposed to be the Lone Star Showdown. Not the Lone Star beat down. This was suppose to be the type of game the Rockets should circle on their calendar. The type of game where pride means just as much as winning and losing.
So what is the explanation for such a poor start to the game?
There are plenty of possible reasons for such a poor start. Maybe the Rockets were fatigued after playing the night before. Maybe they weren’t ready to pull off a road victory against a inner state rival, or maybe Rick Adelman didn’t prepare his team well enough. The truth is there is NO good reason for such a poor start in a such a meaningful game.
The Mavericks had their largest halftime lead and highest scoring half of the season when they went to the locker rooms with a 64-47 lead.
I was convinced Houston was going to be unable to comeback from such a severe deficit, but the team finally got their act together in the second half. Luis Scola and Kevin Martin gave their best efforts in matching the scoring of Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler.
The Rockets went on an impressive 26-6 run in the third quarter that made the game extremely interesting.
I give Adelman and the Rockets a lot of credit for their never quit attitude, but it seemed as though they drained most of their energy trying to get back into the ballgame. As a result, it was the Mavericks who seemed to have the fresher legs late in the fourth quarter. It’s tough to not think about how different the game might have been if the Rockets would have gotten off to a decent start.
Scola had a strong effort with a game high 30 points and 8 rebounds and Martin finished the game with 27 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
The efforts of both Scola and Martin gave the Rockets a chance to steal the ballgame late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, their efforts were ruined when guard J.J. Barea buried a clutch jump shot to give the Mavericks a 106-103 lead with 32.6 seconds remaining.
The Rockets were unable to answer and the Mavericks sealed the victory with free throws.
Nowitzki finished the night with 18 points, but Chandler led the Mavericks in both scoring and rebounding with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
I’m not sure what Houston fans should make of this game. Are they proud that their team showed some character and perseverance in a game that could have been a blowout? Are they infuriated about the worst first half of the year?
The Rockets are now 22-26 on the season and are making things difficult for themselves for the final months of the season.
Houston travels to San Antonio on Saturday to play the Western Conference leading Spurs (39-7).