Defenseless In Big D
Second half collapse dooms Houston to 123-104 defeat to Mavericks
HOUSTON - Kevin Martin’s scorching preseason play continued. So, too, did Omer Asik’s dominance of both the offensive and defensive glass.
Unfortunately, the Rockets’ issues on the defensive end carried over from the day before as well, and those myriad miscues triggered a second half collapse that ultimately doomed Houston to a 123-104 defeat at the hands of the Dirk Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks.
The defining stretch took place early in the third quarter when Dallas used a 20-0 run to turn a 5-point deficit into a 15-point bulge and the Mavericks never looked back from that point forward. The Rockets were, quite literally, defenseless Monday night, especially in transition where they allowed Dallas to score 31 fast-break points, 22 of which came during the decisive second half.
That run removed much of the luster from a free-flowing and fast-paced first half that saw the Rockets produce plenty of offensive fireworks of their own. Kevin Martin, in particular, proved to be a riddle for which the Mavericks had no answer, as he scored 16 of his game-high 23 points during the opening two quarters of play. Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons also registered double-figure scoring by halftime, sparking a Houston offense that connected on eight of its first 14 shots from beyond the arc.
Omer Asik, meanwhile, simply claimed ownership of the few shots that either team actually missed during the frantic first half. Originally slated for an off day as a reward for his tremendous preseason play and as a way to ease the load on Houston’s indispensible big man during the club’s three-games-in-four-nights stretch, Asik instead begged the coaching staff to allow him to play. Little surprise, then, that he took full advantage of the opportunity by continuing to dominate on the glass at a rate that has put him head and shoulders above his peers during the preseason to date. Asik finished the night with 11 boards – five on the offensive glass – in 26 minutes of action, while chipping in with four points and three assists as well.
But even Asik had no answer for the Dallas onslaught that began once the second half started. Martin actually started the third quarter by scoring four straight points, but soon thereafter Houston’s offense bogged down in a flood of turnovers, missed shots and poor execution, simultaneously triggering the Mavericks transition game and exposing the Rockets’ utter lack of resistance in that area. It took Dallas little more than a minute to score 10 consecutive points and the Mavs didn’t need significantly more time to double that total.
From that point forward, Dallas’ offense executed with the easy nonchalance of a marksman engaging in some casual target practice, with players such as O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and even rookie Jae Crowder taking turns scoring at will.
The end result simply served to hammer home a lesson the Rockets coaching staff already knew all too well: with so much youth and so many young faces decorating the team’s roster, much more work will be required in order to get the club on the same page and regular season ready in time for opening night.
“We have one more game on Wednesday,” said Head Coach Kevin McHale, referring to the Rockets’ upcoming matchup with Memphis, “which finishes a five-games-in-eight-day stretch, then we have a week of practice which will just be like starting training camp over, except now we can be more demanding. Especially when you’re working with a group of young guys, they’re not sure what we’re telling them to do so it’s hard to be that demanding. Now we’ve done it enough that they know, so we’ve got to be demanding and exacting in what they do.
“We’re right now having a group of guys that have never played together … So it’s just fitting in new pieces – it takes time.”
And 1s: Monday night’s game marked the preseason debut of Rockets rookie Royce White. The No. 16 overall pick struggled during his initial nine-minute stint in the first half, but appeared more comfortable in the second when he got himself more into the flow of the game by grabbing a few rebounds and initiating the fast break. White finished with seven points on 3-7 shooting, three rebounds and three turnovers in 23 minutes of action.
Jeremy Lin, meanwhile, was given the night off Monday as part of a plan that had been put in place earlier this month to ensure he returns to peak physical condition following offseason knee surgery. Also sitting out Monday’s contest were Terrence Jones and Marcus Morris, both of whom watched from the bench in order to rest their respective ankle injuries.
(On Royce White)
That was his first game and he missed a great deal of training camp so, when that happens, you’re just kind of behind the eight-ball and he’s just got to catch up.
(on where the teams stands now)
We have one more game on Wednesday which finishes a five games in eight day stretch, then we have a week of practice which will just be like starting training camp over except now we can be demanding more. Especially when you’re working with a group of young guys, they’re not sure what we’re telling them to do so it’s hard to be that demanding. Now we’ve done it enough that they know, so we’ve got to be demanding and exacting in what they do. We don’t have a lot of stuff in because we can’t put a lot of stuff in. We put an out-of-bounds play in three days ago and worked on it five or six different times, we called it tonight and … keystone cops. So we’ve got a lot of work we’ve got to do.
The thing I didn’t like was in the third quarter when they started making their run we still had our first group in there for awhile. We got anxious on offense, turned it over, we didn’t make the extra pass, didn’t attack.
We’re right now having a group of guys that have never played together. We have three guys at the most who have played last year together. So it’s just fitting in new pieces – it takes time.
(You being a rookie, how has adjusting to the NBA been a challenge so far?)
“Right now I’ve been trying to play hard and learn from the all the veterans on the team. I just want to learn from those guys and get better every day. I know it’s going to be tough, but I always try to keep a positive attitude.”
(What words of advice to give young players trying to make it to the NBA?)
“Make sure you put in hard work as well as extra work. A lot of people get up shots once a day and you really should be doing that twice a day. That’s the main advice I would give to all the young people trying to make it to this level.”
“It was a good moment for me to come out in front of the home crowd and play free. The first group set the tone early in the second half so we just came in and played loose and played good basketball.”
“It’s a dream come true to play in the NBA. I really stamped my NBA mark here and I can go up from here. I just need to keep working hard, let the moment last and get ready to come back and play hard tomorrow.”
“I came into camp knowing I had to improve on my outside shooting and be more consistent. To get minutes on this team I need to be able to stretch the floor and that’s what I’ve been trying to work on and that’s what the coaches have been working me with and trying to get better every day.”
“It’s an honor to play for the Mavericks and to put on this uniform. You’re playing for those guys in the locker room and the organization. It’s a great feeling. I just want to get it my all every day.”