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Rockets Rally Falls Short

Rival Dallas Mavericks Hold On For A 106-102 Victory

West Medlin
Rockets.com

HOUSTON - There may not be a stranger experience than déjà vu. There’s the bizarre sense that whatever you’re doing now, has already happened in the past. How is this even possible? The Matrix was just a movie right?

Existential questions aside, Houston lost a heartbreaker to the Mavs in Dallas the last time they met. In that game the Rockets had cut the Mavericks’ 25-point first half lead to 1 in the game’s final minutes. Unfortunately, when the dust settled and the game clock expired, the Mavericks managed to eek out the win.

As the saying goes, it was déjà vu all over again. On Saturday night, a huge first half deficit once again proved too large to overcome as the Rockets fell to the Mavericks 102-106. Houston cut a 23-point third quarter lead to 3 with 2 minutes left in the game before Dallas pulled away and held off a roaring Houston comeback.

“This is a very good team we played and you can't keep getting buried by that team and expect you're going to come back and beat them,” Coach Adelman said. “I'm really happy the way the guys finished it but we gotta take this into tomorrow and come with an attitude that we can't continue to do this.”

The second quarter proved especially costly as Dallas collectively caught fire, shooting 15/20 in the frame, good for 34 points. J.J. Barea was particularly disruptive with his ability to penetrate the Rockets’ defense, finding Tyson Chandler for multiple dunks while scoring 5 points of his own.

Conversely, Houston’s second quarter shooting went south as they managed just 19 points on 33.3% shooting from the floor. And after leading by 2 at the start of the second quarter, the Rockets suddenly entered halftime trailing by 13.

“We didn’t have the focus and the concentration that we needed to beat them in the first half,” Shane Battier said. “In the second half we played really hard and got ourselves back into the game but we gave up 57 points in the first half and a lot of that was correctable. It was just a lack of mental focus.”

“We didn’t defend. We didn’t put up any resistance. And then we got very, very compliant to what they wanted us to do offensively,” Adelman said in describing the team’s second quarter. “You can’t play that way.”

The beginning of the third quarter did not get much better for the Rockets. After a relatively quiet 2 quarters, Dirk Nowitzki erupted for a quick 7-point outburst in the first 5 minutes of the second half. Halfway through the third quarter, the Rockets were trailing the Mavericks by 23 points.

Just like their last meeting, however, the Rockets showed an ability to fight back from the largest of deficits and position themselves for a win in the game’s closing minutes. Houston got hot from behind the arc, hitting 6 threes, en route to a 35-point fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry scored 12 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth while Jordan Hill and Shane Battier each contributed 6 in the frame.

All of a sudden, Houston found themselves trailing by 3 points with 2 minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, the déjà vu experienced during the Rockets’ huge comeback continued through the game’s end. A Dallas basket followed by a Rockets turnover and subsequent Jason Kidd layup extended the Mavericks’ lead to 7, putting the Rockets out of striking distance for the remainder of the game.

The Rockets know that if they played the first 3 quarters with the same intensity they showed in the final one, the game’s outcome could have been different.

“We have to do that from the jump,” Kyle Lowry said in talking about the team’s need to learn to play with focus for the entire game. “It's not good to have to do that but we’ve got to learn how to do that with 12 minutes in the first quarter left. We’ve got to do that then. Not play with a sense of urgency when we’re down 20.”

On Saturday, the Rockets showed flashes of their capability to be a dangerous team. Moving forward, the team will try to figure out how to extend those flashes to last an entire game.

“We have to get the energy. We have to break habits,” Adelman said. “And we have to say ‘we’ve got 20 plus games to go here and we’re going to have to get better and we’re going to keep working at it. We’re not giving in to the situation.’”

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