HOUSTON, Dec. 11 (Ticker) -- Michael Finley
made sure there would be no
more late-game dramatics from the Houston Rockets.
Finley scored a season-high 26 points and buried the Rockets
with a barrage of 3-pointers in the third quarter, leading the
Dallas Mavericks to a 102-78 victory.
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The Mavericks were the first team to play at the Toyota Center
since Rockets guard Tracy McGrady
scored 13 points in the final
35 seconds to lift Houston to an improbable 81-80 win over San
Antonio on Thursday.
But Dallas scored the first 10 points and Finley broke out in
the second half to make it a rout. He scored 20 of his 26
points after halftime and made four straight 3-pointers in less than three minutes during the third quarter.
"Part of my rehab (from an ankle injury) was to work on my
game," Finley said. "That included shooting, and I just got into
a rhythm tonight."
Finley's hot streak gave the Mavericks a 73-53 lead with 3:44
left. He scored seven points during a 9-3 run to open the final
period and Houston got no closer than 22 points thereafter.
"The Mavericks were great, and we were uninspired," Rockets
coach Jeff Van Gundy
said. "You put those together - blowout."
In his second game back from the injury that sidelined him for a
month, Finley was 5-of-8 from 3-point range, grabbed six
rebounds and dished out a season-high four assists.
"He's a great shooter and just gives us another great option out
there," said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki
, the league's leading
scorer. "You have to respect him everywhere on the court. He
showed what he can do -- he can put points up in a hurry."
Finley had 13 points in the third quarter as the Mavericks
stretched their nine-point halftime lead to 78-58.
Nowitzki scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and had 11
of his 14 rebounds at the break. Nowitzki battled McGrady in a
memorable shootout on Dec. 2, a 113-106 Dallas win in which
the stars combined for 101 points.
There was no back-and-forth struggle Saturday.
The Rockets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, shot just 31 percent (11-of-36) in the
first half and got only 49 points overall from their starters. McGrady scored
15 points but just four after halftime.
"You get outscored 56-32 with your starting group on the floor
in the first and third quarters, that's something we've been
fighting most of the year," Van Gundy said. "Starting group
lethargy has led to a lot of bad performances at home."
McGrady was 19-of-36 in his 48-point performance vs. the
Mavericks earlier this month, but just 6-of-16 in this one. He
failed to hit a 3-pointer after hitting four in his 35-second
"Tracy was our first priority," Finley said. "We didn't want him
to have another SportsCenter highlight game. We wanted to
limit his touches. Tracy McGrady is one of the hottest players
in the league, and we wanted to make it tough on him."