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Houston Rockets Take 3-0 Lead Behind Harden And Howard Career Highs

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Top Performers:

James Harden: 42 Pts, 9 Asts, 5 Rebs, 1 Stl

Monta Ellis: 34 Pts, 9 Asts, 2 Rebs, 1 Stl

What do you get when you add a playoff-career high 42 points from James Harden and a playoff-career high 26 rebounds from Dwight Howard? Or better yet, what do you get when you the Rockets team you are trying to register one win against is functioning on all cylinders? You pray!

128. 79. . 130. 169

At this point barring a miracle 4 game win streak the Mavericks season is over, it’s just a matter of which game the Houston Rockets will end the suffering of the Dallas Mavericks. It could be as early as Sunday. Better yet, if the Clippers can come back to even the series in San Antonio the Rockets can get in practice time and heal up to await their second round opponent.

The Good

Forget about the Hack-A-Rocket strategy, it’s not working! I’m not sure what the heck happened but Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Clint Capela have all risen to the challenge stepping up to hit their free throws well ahead of their usual season average.

SCS Editor Tamberlyn called for a break out game from Harden in her pregame and she was on the money, his career high points was long overdue in the series. This marks the issue for Dallas and all other teams who’ll face the Rockets in subsequent rounds. Who exactly do you game plan for? If you shut down Howard in the paint then you leave the perimeter open. If you don’t control the pace and transition then the wings start flying and scoring. And, obviously if you don’t put 2 men on Harden he can almost win the game on his own.

Houston held the edge in two key areas: second chance points and offensive rebounds. Those are big areas to be besting your opponent and will bode well for the Rockets if they continue this trend in their next series.

"We've been through a lot of adversity this year. We just find ways to pull games out." – @JHarden13 pic.twitter.com/OAFz22ZHMJ

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 25, 2015

The Bad:

Giving up this many points isn’t ideal especially in the playoffs. Moving forward the Rockets will need to address that. On the other hand the Mavericks are a team who have been among the top offensively this season. The Mavericks for their part resembled that early season squad who were atop the league prior to the trade for Rajon Rondo.

Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki played exactly like how you would expect them to in a game that wouldn’t eliminate them, but one that definitely began to shut down their life support system. For Sunday the Rockets will need to make sure they don’t allow one of them to try to play hero ball and win it on their own.

That second quarter was terrible with the Rockets looking nothing like the team who posted their highest scoring quarter of the playoffs. They were mired in mud allowing the Mavericks to score a consecutive 36 points (they also scored that much in the first quarter).

It’s hard to complain about little things given the 3-0 series lead, however tweaks can be made to transition defense as Dallas held a 33 to 17 point edge in this category. The Rockets also lost the block and steals categories.

"It was a hell of a game if you like offense." – Kevin McHale pic.twitter.com/SwUw70GOSX

— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) April 25, 2015

The Game

The Rockets got out to a blistering start scoring 42 points in the first quarter and were functioning on all cylinders. By the end of the quarter they had a six point lead, which isn’t much considering the offensive  onslaught. They followed that up with a less than stellar second quarter where they not only allowed Dallas back in the game, but gave away the lead to the tune of a ten at one point. Finally the calmed the storm and entered the half trailing 72 – 65

Whatever they said in the locker room worked, given the Mavericks were playing desperate knowing a loss would equate to falling behind 3-0 in the series and would virtually end their season. But, shockingly it was Houston who came out playing like they were the ones trailing in the series. By the end of the third quarter the game score was that of most full games: 101-99. Not exactly the score you would expect from a playoff game.

The final quarter was played to a draw with both teams scoring 29 points and Houston garnering the win in a 130-128 victory.

The Rockets will return to the court Sunday seeking to win their first playoff series since 2009 and the first for Harden since he became a Rocket. The tip-off for Game 4 is a 9:00 Eastern on Sunday evening where the Rockets will look to sweep the series. Get out the brooms.

Next: Who is DOP?

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