Rockets Rally Falls Short
Houston storms back from 25-point deficit, but Dallas holds on for 111-106 win
DALLAS - Faced with a seemingly insurmountable first half deficit, the Rockets refused to give up or give in. They rallied, fought back and even had opportunities to seize the advantage for themselves.
What they could not quite do, however, was get over the hump. And as a result, an awful first quarter ultimately doomed them to a 111-106 defeat at the hands of their rivals from Dallas.
The game began getting away from the Rockets soon after the opening tip took place. The Mavs blitzed Houston in the first quarter, breaking off a 17-2 run as their lead ballooned to as large as 21 at one point. Dallas capitalized on one Rockets turnover after another, resulting in 13 fast break points in the first quarter alone – just two points shy of Houston’s entire opening period output.
The second quarter started much the same way, as the Rockets continued to turn the ball over, triggering Dallas’ transitioning game and a boatload of easy buckets. The bleeding only stopped when Kevin Martin caught fire, scoring all 10 points during a 10-2 Rockets run which trimmed the team’s deficit to 17. Houston, however, could only trade baskets with Dallas from that point forward, and the Rockets hit the halftime break trailing 64-47.
“We got a little impatient in the first half,” said Shane Battier, when asked what prompted such an uncharacteristic number of turnovers from a team that usually does such a good job of protecting the ball. “We weren’t making a whole lot of shots, we started to do a lot individually, force passes, and [the Mavericks are] too long to do that. We dug ourselves in a huge hole. That was one of our worst halves in a long time.”
Down and seemingly out, the Rockets refused to fold. After watching Dallas score the first seven points of the second half to built its lead back to 22, Houston promptly embarked upon an extraordinary 26-6 run of its own; a stretch punctuated by a Battier triple to bring the Rockets within 77-75. One minute later, Martin uncorked a long 3-point attempt that would have given Houston the lead but it rattled in and out, Dallas answered at the other end and by the time the period ended, the Mavs had seemingly righted the ship, regained control and taken the Rockets best shot.
That feeling seemed all but confirmed when Dallas extended its lead to 11 at the mid-way mark of the final frame. Luis Scola, however, had other ideas. Houston’s tireless power forward, who led all scorers with 30 points in just 29 minutes of action, carried his club on one last charge that closed the gap to a single point with his putback at the 51-second mark. But Dallas’ J.J. Barea, a thorn in the Rockets’ side all night long, knocked down a midrange jumper with 32 seconds remaining to give the Mavs a bit more breathing room, and Houston would come no closer the rest of the way.
“I was disappointed in the way we started the game,” said Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman. We got our ourselves in a hole and it was tough to climb out of it.
“In the second half we just started executing things better and we had a chance to get back and get set… We played hard and did a lot of good things in the second half, but it’s just too hard to come back against a good team.”
AND 1’S: Prior to Thursday night’s game, the NBA announced the final returns of 2011 NBA All-Star Balloting presented by T-Mobile, which determined the starters for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game that will be played at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 20. Rockets center Yao Ming was selected as the Western Conference starting center. This marks Yao’s eighth All-Star selection (all eight as a starter: 2003-2009, 2011), which matches Hakeem Olajuwon’s (12 selections, eight as a starter) team-record eight selections as an All-Star starter.
“It is always an honor to be voted in as a starter for the All-Star Game by the fans,” said Yao in a statement released by the team following his selection. “I would like to thank everyone who has supported me as I continue to rehab from my surgery.”
(On the poor start...) “I was disappointed in the way we started the game. Got our ourselves in a hole and it was tough to climb out of it. It was offensively that was our problem. We turned it over and they just got layup after layup in the open court. We were a step behind in everything we did and we did nothing on offense to make them slow down. In the second half we just started executing things better and we had a chance to get back and get set. When a team gets layup after layup, all the shots look easy. We played hard and did a lot of good things in the second half, but it’s just too hard to come back against a good team.”
(On all the turnovers…) “There is no time for us not to be mentally engaged. I don’t know what the reason was. It was everybody. I put the second group in and it didn’t get any better. I don’t know what the reason was it took a while for us to wake up. But give them credit they stayed with it and we had chances in the fourth quarter and it was a long way to come back, like I said.”
(On Barea’s shot at the end…) “They were setting a lot of picks for him and they left shooters with Chandler out there on the boards and we didn’t do a good enough job of getting through the pick and getting in front of him. That is all I can say now until I look at it. But, he was getting like two or three picks at a time and you try to stay home on Nowitzki and you try to help on Terry and Kidd and he made us pay.”
You can’t get down 25 points to start the game. We turned it around by playing defense, and getting out and running.
They play that sort of game too. We get out there and we run and we shoot, make plays and pass to each other, we’re a tough team to guard.
We missed some shots and guys got down on themselves, upset that we missed some shots that we usually make. Just tough coming in here playing against a team that plays the way they play, how fast and how hard they played from the jump. They were well rested and we need to come with a better mentality and better approach.
It could be a positive but at the same time we want the ‘W.’ We wish we’d have won the game and wished we would have come out more aggressive but we can take good things from it and can take bad things from it.
We got a little impatient in the first half. We weren’t making a whole lot of shots, we started to do a lot individually, force passes, and they’re too long to do that. We dug ourselves in a huge hole. That was one of our worst halves in a long time.
I’m proud of the way we fought in the second half, but then again we couldn’t have played any worse. The only place to go was up at that point. Didn’t make enough plays down the stretch but we never gave up.
You cannot dig yourselves into a 25-point hole before you come to play. I don’t know what inspired us, when coach yelled at us or the embarrassment of being down 25, but you can’t, especially on the road to a team of Dallas’ caliber, get down 25 and expect to win.
You feel bad because you start bad – you’re never supposed to be 25 down in the NBA. We came back and it was a good thing but at the end of the day we lost and that’s what counts.
Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle
(Opening Statement) “I thought that we played three good quarters of basketball and one quarter of subpar basketball. So, I’m glad that we won. I think that the other quarter from tonight is upside and we have to get over it. I don’t have any excuses for it. They are a hard-charging team that keeps coming at you and we have to do a better job when they do.”
(On the high total of points scored) “When you play Houston the games tend to be high scoring. Our balance was good offensively. It’s just that there are 15-20 possessions where we need to be better. It’s a fact, it’s reality and we’re going to keep working towards being better.”
(On the offensive contributions outside of the normal players) “It’s not going to be Dirk (Nowitzki) and (Jason) Terry every night. And it’s not going to be Dirk or (Jason) Kidd every night. We have strong belief in the other guys. Tyson (Chandler) is getting more accustomed to what we are doing offensively, which is good. Another guy, Pavlovich, was real good for us tonight. I thought defensively he was real solid and he hit some shots.”
(On what happened in the 2nd half…did the Mavs let up?) “I think them going to the free throw line and fouls called slowed the pace for us.”
(On finding the offensive groove without Caron being in the lineup) “It’s tough when you take a guy like Caron out of the lineup, a guy who’s putting up 20 to 25 points a game. You have to make adjustments, and we’re trying to do that.”
(On whether he sees himself getting more opportunities) “Yeah, definitely so. Throughout the year, you’ve seen more confidence from me. Now with guys gone on the offense, I find myself getting a little more aggressive.”
(On how important it is to continue playing well) “It’s important. In the West—the way the standings are—with one loss, you can fall down to 5th or 6th [place]. With a couple wins, you can probably climb your way up to 3rd or even 2nd [place].”
Mavericks Guard Jason Terry
(On JJ Barea) “He’s done a great job of coming out and executing what Coach wants him to do as far as running the team offensively. He’s being aggressive, he’s looking for his offense, and tonight it paid big dividends.”
(On whether it was hard to play with a lead) “I don’t think it was hard to play with a lead like that tonight, but it’s hard to play when you can’t touch guys. When you’re up 20, and you’re trying to be physical and try to bury them, and they keep marching to the free throw line… We did what we had to get out of here with a victory. And when we score over 100, we’re pretty much unbeatable. So we’re doing our job in that respect.