In their first game back in action, the Houston Rockets overcame a 14-point deficit to win a wildly entertaining game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Friday night marked the Houston Rockets‘ first official regular season game since the NBA suspended play in March. There had been questions heading into the bubble regarding the quality of the games, as the atmosphere is much different than anything the league has seen, due, in large part, to the absence of the raucous crowds.
But the games have been largely competitive, as we’ve seen several games come down to the wire, including the LA Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers matchup, the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz matchup, and the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies game. But for as entertaining as each of those games were, they all lag in comparison to the Rockets’ contest against the Dallas Mavericks.
James Harden was unstoppable in the first quarter, as he had 23 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, giving the Rockets a 37-31 lead before Harden exited the game at the 2:41 mark in the quarter. The Mavs went on a 11-5 run with Harden on the bench and tied the game 42-42 at the end of the first.
The Mavericks stretched the lead out in the second, thanks to their bench, which outscored the Rockets’ second-unit by a margin of 19-3, which was largely due to Trey Burke’s 15 points. Dallas jumped out to a 84-72 lead, which was their highest lead of the half, although they led 85-75 at the close of the second quarter.
The Mavs extended their lead to 13 points early in the third, but the Rockets fought their way back, as they trailed 97-96 with 6:08 remaining in the quarter. The Mavs re-established a 14-point lead late in the third, and closed the quarter out with a 119-108 lead, as they got the three-ball to trickle in time and time again. Dallas went 6-of-9 from deep in the quarter and made 42.9 percent of their 3-pointers in the game.
Ben McLemore helped spark a Rockets comeback, as he made two early triples in the fourth quarter, before fouling out of the game. Although the Rockets stormed back, they trailed 138-131 with 45 seconds remaining, before Robert Covington saved the day.
RoCo scored four of the Rockets final five points in the quarter, including a game-saving tip-in off of a missed James Harden free throw, which was a play we later discovered that Covington choreographed.
Robert Covington: "I told PJ exactly what to do. I've worked on that play numerous times with different teams that I've been on. James missed it perfectly. Normally you miss it to the right, but it just so happened that it rimmed out and it went around."
— Anthony Duckett (@a_duckett) August 1, 2020
The play was later explained by ESPN’s Tim Legler on SportsCenter:
“Robert Covington is going to get all of the credit, but watch P.J. Tucker on the other side. He basically pins Kristaps Porzingis under the basket and uses that brute strength, and that allows Covington to come over there and have some space to get that tip-in.”
The Rockets pulled off the victory in the overtime period, as they won 153-149. Let’s get into our individual grades.
Next: The Starters