Mavs Can't Handle Rockets; Power Points
The biggest pregame storyline entering the contest was Chandler Parsons returning to Houston for the first time since his last home game with the Rockets last year.
Since the Dallas Mavericks used a big checkbook and a big calculator to swipe Parsons from Houston, there hasn’t been a shortage of bulletin-board material, whether it be Rockets GM Daryl Morey saying in the offseason that Parsons was not the sure-fire compliment to James Harden and Dwight Howard for a championship run, or James Harden saying in the offseason that other than himself and Howard, everybody else was replaceable and just role players. Harden provided one last bit of "headline porn'' this week when he took a shot at Parsons’ “leadership, his defensive abilities, and his shot-making”, saying that Parsons’ replacement Trevor Ariza provides all those things that they were lacking last year when of course, Chandler Parsons donned the red and white.
Our belief going in: Parsons needed to separate himself from the noise, not worry about being the heir to Dirk as the "face of the franchise,'' and build on his sound efforts in Friday's blowout win over Kobe's Lakers.
In this 95-92 loss on the second night of a back-to-back, CP did none of that.
Parsons was greeted by extremely strong boos when he was introduced at the start of the game. The boos continued during the game whenever Parsons touched the ball and his first miss of the game caused the arena to erupt in cheers. Parsons also got a mixed reaction from the fans in the third quarter when a tribute video was played for him.
Parsons cited his appreciation for the video but added, "I think sometimes they forgot I was a restricted free agent and the organization could have matched my contract."
Yeah, that's not exactly "separating yourself from the noise.''
During the game, Parsons struggled mightily. Defensively, there weren’t any egregious errors on his part, but offensively, he missed all five of his three-point attempts, most which were good looks, and only finished 33 percent from the free throw line (1-of-3). By the fourth quarter, Parsons’ confidence was clearly shaken as he passed up numerous open shots, including one with less than a minute to go. He then followed that up with a poor foul on Harden at the other end that gave the Rockets a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
His final stat line was eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, seven rebounds, a steal, an assist, and a turnover.
Parsons' “replacement” in Houston, Trevor Ariza, finished with five points on 2-of-10 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a turnover.
Said Parsons: "I wish I would have played better. I never really got settled in.''
The Mavs struggled from the three-point line, shooting an abysmal 17.1 percent on 6-of-35 shooting. Three of those four came from Jameer Nelson in the first half when he started 3-of-4 from downtown. The first three-pointer made by a Maverick not named Jameer Nelson came with 2:12 left in the third quarter when Devin Harris (coming off his leg injury) knocked one in.
The Rockets finished 32.6 percent from downtown on 15-of-46 shooting. The stat line is deceiving though because the Rockets were 13-of-25 from three-point range in the first half, the best three-point shooting performance by any team in a half this season. In the second half, they only converted on two of their 21 three-point attempts.
But the damage was done.
And yet ... Dallas led by four with less than a minute remaining. Then came misses and a turnover and Dirk Nowitzki and Monra Ellis each missing 3-pointers to tie in the final seconds.
Said Dirk: "We should've won this game."
The Mavs missed the easy opportunities to get points on the board by going 72.7 percent from the free-throw line. Most players were not too bad, but two of the Mavs primary scorers, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons, both brought the percentage down by hitting 50 percent and 40 percent from the line, respectively.
Tyson Chandler and Brandan Wright, the primary big men for the Mavs, took full advantage of the void left by Dwight Howard, who missed the contest with a lingering knee injury. Both big men had double-doubles with Tyson Chandler having 13 points and 13 rebounds and a huge block on Harden with less than two minutes remaining in the game and the Rockets were down by just five. B-Wright finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds and three big blocked shots, including a crucial one in the fourth quarter when the Mavs regained their lead for the first time since early in the fourth quarter.
Both big men made sure to transfer Lob City to Houston for the night as Wright and Chandler both completed numerous momentum-shifting alley-oops throughout the game, including a fancy reverse finish by Chandler in the third quarter.
The Mavs, having seen their six-game win streak snapped, return home to host the Indiana Pacers Monday night at 7:30 p.m. They will do so with a 10-4 record ... and the need to accept that the second-night-of-a-back-to-back meeting with Houston is something they might as well get used to.
"They're catching us four times on back-to-backs,'' said Dirk, acknowledging the Dallas-Houston schedule for the rest of the year. "I've never ever seen that in this league before. But it is what it is.''
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