HOUSTON - The pursuit of perfection tends to be a noble yet ultimately quixotic quest, one that’s frequently best left for life’s little victories like a steaming cup of coffee on a tranquil Sunday morning, the perfect song at the ideal moment, or an Arrested Development marathon on an obligation-free Friday night. Aim a little higher than that and life will often let you down.
On the basketball court, the endeavor is no less destined for disappointment. Even for legendary one-namers like Magic, Bird and Jordan, perfection was always more of an ever-elusive abstract rather than any sort of truly obtainable standard. There simply is no such thing. Room for improvement and areas that require refinement always exist. And so, in the process of striving for the unachievable, one must be willing, however begrudgingly, to “settle” for those brief brushes with perfection; to embrace them, be it with a euphoric shout or a simple shoulder shrug, and accept those precious moments for what they truly are: rare gifts, beautiful and fleeting, containing nothing in the way of guarantees that they will ever return again.
Chandler Parsons greeted his moment in much the same way he welcomes the vast majority of life’s good graces these days – with a wry smile, immense appreciation and a pair of goofy glasses to boot. Told he missed out on a chance to tie and potentially even set a new franchise record for most field goals made in a game without a miss when he launched a heat check three after draining his first 11 shots, Parsons promptly deadpanned, “Well, now I feel like an idiot.”
Of course he should feel like nothing of the sort. Not after setting a new career high with 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting (including 6-7 from downtown) and most definitely not after leading the Rockets to their first win over Dallas in more than three years. Parsons was simply sublime Sunday night, stealing the spotlight in the most eye-catching way possible as Houston romped to a remarkable 136-103 victory.
Appropriately enough, the Florida product’s brush with perfection occurred on a night when the Rockets gave fans a firsthand look at the type of team they can be when operating at close to peak performance as well. Indeed, it’s virtually impossible to imagine Houston playing any better than it did during the game-defining third quarter that saw the club outscore Dallas by a whopping 44-17 margin. The Rockets hit 70 percent of their shots in the quarter while limiting the Mavericks to 33 percent shooting, in the process providing emphatic proof of the potent possibilities that exist when Houston’s D harmonizes with the sweet, lush sounds of its already chart-topping offense. This was U2’s Joshua Tree album washing over the entire arena wave after wave in a wall of sound, with every fast break, dunk and drained three building toward a crescendo that was pitch-perfect and begging for an encore.
At the center of it all stood Parsons and Jeremy Lin; the latter perhaps lacking the same gaudy stats of his good friend, but certainly little of the impact. Because make no mistake: Lin was masterful as well, carving up the Dallas defense from start to finish on his way to collecting 21 points and nine assists in just 25 minutes of play. He went anywhere he pleased all night long, made the right plays and absolutely tortured the Mavericks with his dribble penetration. That they would share the stage Sunday night seemed only fitting. This is, after all, a pair of players who once upon a time appeared to possess similar professional pedigrees. Parsons was a second-round afterthought on draft night; Lin wasn’t drafted at all. Neither was expected to have nights quite like this. Now here they are, key holders to a high performance sports car capable of leaving opponents choking on its dust. They get it. They take nothing for granted. And both believe the best is yet to come.
“I think we appreciate everything,” says Lin of the bond he shares with Parsons. “He got his opportunity – great system, great role – and really took off with it similar to me in New York. So we really can relate on that end and there’s an understanding of what it’s like to be an underdog.
“He deserves everything he’s getting. There really is no ceiling. It’s his second year. He’s 24-years-old. No one really knows how good he can become. But he’s pretty good already.”
Good enough to put up 32 points and force observers to wonder what else might be in store. Good enough to get away with those goofy post-game glasses. Good enough even to make a remarkable run at a Rockets’ record not meant to be challenged by perimeter players (Yao Ming owns the mark thanks to his 12-of-12 performance against Miami in 2009).
“It’s incredible,” Parsons said while trying to describe the moment. “You get goose bumps. It’s the most amazing feeling.”
It was, in a word, perfect.
(On teams play in the third quarter) “The 3rd quarter was amazing. We really made a lot of shots. Got some stops, got out and ran, it was a huge, huge quarter for us like 44-17. After the first half where both teams ... the score was 61-64. It didn't seem like anyone was going to score 17 in a quarter in this game.”
(On defense on Dirk Nowitzki) “We were trying to run at him, we were trying to do some stuff…he's just a fantastic player. Early in the game they were making 3's on us, they were kind of picking us apart. They got out in transition. We had missteps where we got a couple cross checking things going where we didn't handle that well but in third quarter we were able to start off getting a couple of dunks that kind of got the defense a little sagged in. We got a few stops and then the guys made a lot of shots. That's unusual, Chandler (Parsons) went 12-of-13. The only shot he missed was that heat check three. It was a heck of a game for us. We needed a game like that badly to just come out and play and have some good things happen.”
(On defensive work the last couple of weeks paying off in third quarter) “With our team, we're always better defensively if were making shots. There still at the age where their offense kind of dictates their defensive energy. As we were making shots that helped too.”
(On Chandler Parsons play) “Chandler played very well. He had 32. I do believe that's a career high for him. He made shots, he played well. I thought that Jeremy (Lin) and James (Harden), they had 16 assists between the two of them and two turnovers. Those guys did a nice job of moving. They kind of over extended on James (Harden) a little bit. We had some pretty good ball movement. Dallas is going to pack to paint. That's bothered us the last couple of years, but if you make the extra pass, it makes them scramble a little bit more out of that.”
(On Thomas Robinson in the rotation) “We don't even know what his role is yet. I tell Thomas (Robinson) you have to play by feel right now. We'll practice hard Tuesday and see what he does again there. I’m just trying to get a feel for him and he's trying to get a feel for what we're doing. I like what he does defensively. He can get out and show in pick-and-rolls. You can switch stuff with him. He has good hands defensively. He gets down and really moves his feet. He might be able to give us a different look defensively at that four or five spot where we can switch things.”
(On Francisco Garcia's play) “He (Francisco Garcia) and James (Harden) are really good pros. He's just got a presence about him. He just knows what he's doing.”
(Best you’ve seen from Jeremy Lin?)
Jeremy has had a ton of good games from us. That’s the high end but any time you’ve got 8-14, 21 points, nine assists and 2 turnovers that’s the high end for anybody – that’s the high end for Chris Paul. But he’s had a lot of games where he’s had high end games. It’s like with all of our young guys: as you get older you just get more consistent. I think what Jeremy proved last year is that with his high end ceiling, he can get on a roll and sustain it for a long time.
The other thing about Jeremy: He didn’t play the fourth quarter last game but he didn’t care because he was so excited for Patrick (Beverley). He’s a great teammate as well.
(What is the ceiling for Chandler?)
I think we appreciate everything. He got his opportunity – great system, great role – and really took off with it similar to me in New York. So we really can relate on that end and there’s an understanding of what it’s like to be an underdog.
He deserves everything he’s getting. There really is no ceiling. It’s his second year. He’s 24-years-old. No one really knows how good he can become. But he’s pretty good already.
(On the first win against Dallas in a long time) “We had lost 9 straight to them and so it feels good. It feels like we got a monkey off our back. We're going to have another tough one at Dallas coming up.”
(On Rockets building a lead in which they did not relinquish) “What we have been addressing is building a lead and then instead of giving it right back, continuing to build on it and I think we did as a team a great job. We were talking about it, we were focused on it. In the past few games we have built leads and giving them up and so it was good to see us tonight just really build on that.”
(on being in the zone)
It’s incredible. You get goose bumps. It’s the most amazing feeling.
(On his shooting) “Yeah, it felt good out there. My teammates did a great job of finding me early and I got to the free throw line and hit a bunch of free throws. I think that gave me confidence going forward and just really our spacing and our ball movement opened up the floor so much for me and just knocking down shots.
(On his career high points) “It felt great, when you get in a zone like that it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world for a basketball player. Especially when our team is winning and we’re on a roll like that you can’t be stopped.
(On the key to the win) “Guys did a good job, especially in that 3rd quarter of moving the ball. We made some big shots. Chandler(Parsons) was just hitting everything tonight but it started with our defense. Our defense helped us out and we got some transition baskets.”
(On the play of Chandler Parsons) “He (Chandler Parsons) couldn't miss. I think the only shot he missed was a heave from far out. He did a good job. Jeremy (Lin) made some big shots. Guys just played well especially in that second half. I think in the first half, they (Dallas) probably scored 60 something points. In the second half, in that third quarter we scored 44 and that was the game right there.”
(On his role here with the Rockets) “I want to say I’m already there, but its definitely getting better with more practices. I’m just trying to be more aggressive and be more involved.”
(On his contributions to the team in a playoff run) “They have put me right back in my comfort zone. I came into the league with a winners mentality, that’s just who I am as a player so I’m trying to get right back on a team who has the same mentality and I’m right back in my comfort zone as far as trying to compete for a winning record.”
DALLAS MAVERICKS COACH RICK CARLISLE
(On the game) “The first half we made some mistake, but the game was close and we had leads, but the third quarter was ugly. I don’t have a good explanation for it other then they picked up their game and we didn’t match it. You have to give them credit. This is one of those situations where you have to step up to the challenge and we just didn’t do it.”
(On Dirk Nowitzki’s play) “They were double teaming him and I thin we hit four threes off of his double teams in the first half so that’s twelve points on four touches and that’s just as good as him (Dirk Nowitzki) hitting four threes. We want to get him the ball and we need good things to happen, but the problem was we just couldn’t guard these guys. We didn’t guard them and that has got to change before Wednesday.”
(On the Rockets) “(Jeremy) Lin got inside early a lot and we have to do a better job on him. (James) Harden is a great player and I thought he hit some difficult shots initially and then it got to easy for him getting in there as well.”
(On the game) “It was really rough second half. You watch the game just like I did. It’s plain and simple. It was turnovers. Our turnovers led to their easy shots, threes, lay-ups. You can’t play like that and expect to win.”
(On the game) “We just weren’t moving the ball, although we were scoring. Houston had too many people getting to the basket on cuts and show-and-go’s and the next thing you know, everybody was coming down the lane and that opens up their drive and kick and opens up the threes and the drives to the basket. I thought we played well offensively in the first half, but we were still down because we gave up way to many points. In the third quarter they still scored at the same clip and we could just never get any stops. It was a damn lay-up drill and then they made their threes. It was embarrassing.”
(On Dallas’ recent play) “At the clip, we’re losing and losing (close) games at home, and those are the games you have to win if you want to be in the playoffs. We haven’t shown consistently that we can big games. We have to fight and we have another game on Wednesday and we’ll see what we got.”
(On Donatas Motiejunas) “He’s a great player. He plays with a lot of energy, he plays hard and at the four he is a good shooter and just competed. I thought he fits right in there with this Rockets team because they have so many guys that can spread the floor and shoot. Houston has a very good team.
(On the third quarter) “We just couldn’t get stops. They got going and they’re the type of team when they get a couple of long balls falling, they kind of get more and more confident and they start hitting a lot of shots. We are looking forward to Wednesday’s game (vs. Houston). They definitely kicked our (butt) tonight so going tonight on Wednesday; it is a game we’re looking forward to.”
Houston registered another sold out crowd of 18,123 for tonight’s game. Overall, the Rockets have 12 sellouts in 2012-13.
The Rockets rolled to a 136-103 win over the Mavericks tonight, snapping Houston’s nine-game losing streak to Dallas (11/29/10-1/16/13). The last Rockets win was 97-94 vs. Dallas (12/31/09).
Houston (64) and Dallas (61) combined for 125 points in the opening half tonight. The Rockets (66) and Mavericks (63) also combined for 129 first-half points in the last meeting at Toyota Center (12/8/12). Houston went on to score 72 second-half points tonight. Overall, it marked Houston’s 25th 60-plus point half of the season.
The Rockets outscored the Mavericks by a 44-17 count in the third quarter, setting Houston’s highest scoring quarter of the season. The previous high was a 42-point second quarter also vs. Dallas (12/8/12).
Houston finished with its ninth 30-plus assist game of the season (Rockets record: 8-1). The Rockets also outrebounded the Mavericks by a 45-32 (+13) edge, marking the eighth time this season Houston has recorded a double-digit rebounding differential over its opponent.
The Rockets ran off with a season-high 36 fast-break points tonight. Houston now owns a record of 19-9 when scoring 20-plus fast-break points this season.
Chandler Parsons registered a career-high 32 points (12-13 FG, 2-2 FT) tonight, which included setting his career best of six 3-pointers made (6-7 3FG). He became the first Rockets player with at least 13 field goal attempts to hit 92 percent of his shots in a game since Otis Thorpe went for 24 points on 12-of-13 (.923) from the field vs. Minnesota (3/31/90). Parsons, who is currently on the longest 20-point streak of his career at four consecutive games (24 on 2/23/13, 20 on 2/27/13 and 21 on 3/1/13), netted his previous career-best 31 points (13-17 FG, 4-7 3FG, 1-2 FT) in a 131-103 win vs. New York (11/23/12).
Jeremy Lin finished with 21 points (8-14 FG, 4-5 FT) and a game-high nine assists tonight. Lin picked up his 10th 20-plus point performance of 2012-13.
James Harden also added 21 points (5-10 FG, 4-8 3FG, 7-9 FT) and seven assists tonight, coming up just one assist short of a 20/8 game. The Rockets are 9-1 this season when Harden reaches at least 20 points and eight assists in a game. The lone loss came to the Mavericks when Harden had 39 points (10-17 FG, 4-9 3FG, 15-16 FT) and nine assists vs. Dallas (12/8/12).
Omer Asik posted 10 points (4-6 FG), 10 rebounds and a career-high five steals tonight, surpassing his previous career best of four thefts vs. Detroit (11/10/12). Asik now owns 27 double-doubles on the season.
Francisco Garcia and Tim Ohlbrecht each made their Rockets debut tonight.
O.J. Mayo led five Mavericks in double-figure scoring with 18 points (6-9 FG, 3-3 3FG) and four assists tonight. Mayo tied his career best in scoring with 40 points (15-26 FG, 6-9 3FG, 4-4 FT) and eight boards in the last meeting in Houston (12/8/12), including 16 points (6-9 FG, 2-2 3FG, 2-2 FT) in the fourth quarter.
Shawn Marion recorded 14 points (6-13 FG), a team-high eight boards and one steal tonight. Marion now has 1,616 career steals to tie Rod Strickland (1,616) for 25th place on the NBA’s all-time steals list.