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Houston Rockets Top Potential First Round Opponent – Dallas

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The Houston Rockets traveled north to see an in-state, inter-division foe on Thursday, both Houston and the Dallas Mavericks were coming off wins on Wednesday night. Houston was on their 4th game in 5 nights and ended this week with only one loss, to the Raptors on Monday.

Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) drives to the basket past Houston Rockets guard Nick Johnson (3) and guard James Harden (13) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas is coming off a huge win in Oklahoma City last night and were looking to extend their lead on the Thunder in the standings. Rockets also were in a high-scoring battle on Wednesday night as they took on the Sacramento Kings at the Toyota Center.

James Harden posted his career-high of 51 points and DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins had a huge triple-double for the Kings, 24 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists. Rockets were victorious 111-115, but they knew there was business to handle in Dallas today.

79. . 108. 169. 101

Lineups

Rocket’s Coach Kevin McHale went with Jason Terry, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones and got the expected limited minutes from Dwight Howard. Howard didn’t play on Wednesday against the Kings, but was allowed to suit up and played 18 minutes on Thursday in Dallas. The Beard had a quiet night to his standards finishing with 24 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

Josh Smith played significant minutes (31) due to Howard’s restrictions and Joey Dorsey pitched in 10 minutes with Donatas Motiejunas out. Pablo Prigioni continues to play valuable minutes and gain chemistry with the team while Corey Brewer, once again, did his thing off of the bench.

Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) shoots a free throw during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Rockets defeated the Mavericks 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas and Head Coach Rick Carlisle started Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler in the middle. The Rockets didn’t match up particularly well having Patrick Beverley out but the guards did a great job of shutting down Rondo in the second half.

Devin Harris and Al-Farouq Aminu were both held in check off the bench, along with J.J. Barea who played 16 minutes. The best contributor off the pine for Dallas was Amar’e Stoudemire who played 14 minutes, scored 11 points and snagged 5 boards.

How They Did It

The Rockets trailed at halftime 47-55, but turned everything around after that. Knowing that the Rockets gain the 2nd seed with the win, both were aware that there is a high possibility this could be a first round playoff match-up and gave it all they had.

Houston shot back after being down by 6 heading into the 4th.

The last quarter was solid for the Rockets as the fundamentals proved to be the key. Tied at 95, Jason Terry hit a three to give the Rockets the final lead of the game. Rockets knocked down free throw after free throw to assure the victory and finished with a 7 point win over the division rival.

Houston nailed 11 three-point shots including three from Trevor Ariza compared to Dallas’ 8. Also, even with Dwight Howard on limited minutes, the Rockets out-rebounded the Mavericks 55-41!

Both teams shared a few interesting stats including points in the paint at 40 each and both shot 44% from the field. The game came down to the few extra fast break points in favor of the Rockets 26-18, even though Houston had 5 more turnovers.

Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) defends against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stats for Thursday’s Rockets @ Mavericks

Rockets

55 rebounds – 24 assists – 2 blocks – 9 steals – 18 turnovers

Mavericks

41 rebounds – 23 assists – 5 blocks – 6 steals – 13 turnovers

Former Mav’s Show Up For Rockets

Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) guard Jason Terry (31) and guard Corey Brewer (33) celebrate during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Rockets defeated the Mavericks 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Both former champions with the Dallas Mavericks, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry are now wearing red and yellow, taking their talents a few hours south on I-45. On Thursday Terry pitched in 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Brewer racked up 14 points, 3 boards and 2 assists in 24 minutes.

Both Brewer and Terry look to play the same roles they did in Dallas when they hustled for their championship against Miami.

Brewer is going to keep playing hard-nosed defense off of the bench and it would be nice if he brings his three-ball to the playoffs. Jason “The Jet” Terry on the other hand will be leaned on a little more with the absence of Beverley, but there’s no fear with a veteran who has title experience under his belt.

Chandler Parsons isn’t to be discredited either as he was having a solid night before leaving with right knee soreness. This has been a problem the former Rocket has been dealing with for a while and they may need to rest him in hopes of a playoff run.

Top Performers

Rockets: Trevor Ariza – 19pts, 6reb, 6ast, 2stl

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki – 21pts, 7ast

Play of the Game:

Final Thoughts

The Rockets came out a little tired at the beginning of the game, but that’s to be expected with the schedule bearing down on them this week. Coach McHale again proved how great of a coach he is by bringing his team out in the second half and exposing some of the weaknesses of the Mavs.

A 4th quarter score of 31-18 sealed the deal for the Rockets after knocking down their clutch free throws at the end.

Expect to see Howard back on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Westbrook’s, I mean Thunder, with the Rockets next game not scheduled until the Wednesday after that in San Antonio. Houston will need the big man for a serious playoff run and with the way Harden and Jones are playing, that is starting to become more of a reality.

Houston, once again, took the 2nd-seed in the West, bumping Memphis back to 3. The Grizzlies will face OKC on Friday while the Rockets rest.

Dallas will head off to face the West’s #1-seed Golden State Warriors on Sunday and the Rockets will head to OKC for another possible playoff preview. Rockets/Thunder tips off Sunday at noon on ABC after you get your Final Four fix on Saturday.

Next: Debunking 5 myths on why Rockets can't win Championship

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