Playing without 2 major parts of their team yet again, the Houston Rockets went into a huge game with the rival Dallas Mavericks that held big time playoff implications with the Rockets trailing the Mavs by only a .5 game heading into last night’s matchup.
The game had a playoff feel to it throughout with neither team able to gain a big edge on the other. It was the type of game that you did not want to see come to an end because both teams were playing with such hustle and integrity. With 10 seconds to go in the 4th, Dirk Nowitzki stepped to the free throw line with his Mavs leading by 2 and a chance to ice the game. However, he made only 1 of 2, and the Rockets had new life. On the other end Chandler Parsons hit a tough, contested 3 over Jason Kidd with 3 seconds left to tie the game. Out of a Dallas timeout, Kidd through an alley-oop to a cutting and open Brandon Wright but Courtney Lee made an impressively clutch defensive play to tip the pass and send the game to overtime.
Again in OT, both teams scrapped and fought hard. With 18.5 seconds to go in the extra session, Dirk Nowitzki was once again sent to the line with Dallas leading by 2, but this time he knocked down both free throws. The Rockets responded quickly on the other end with a twisting reverse layup from Goran Dragic. Houston then elected to go for the trap in the backcourt instead of fouling and it paid off, as they were able to force a rare 8-second violation and got the ball back with 4.5 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, the ball was inbounded to Dragic on a curl play, and it looked like he would have a wide open layup until 3 Mavs defenders converged on him. Dragic however spotted a wide open Chase Budinger in the corner and tried to get him the ball. His initial pass was tipped by Shawn Marion but Dragic stuck with it and was still able to tip it to Budinger with one hand, but his game winning three point attempt came up just short, and Houston’s great all around game ended in heartbreak.
With this undermanned team, the Rockets had already beat 2 of the West’s elite with 2 inspiring 4th quarter comebacks. One last Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder coming back after being down 11 with 2:29 to go in the 4th, and another this past Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers after being down 12 with just over 6 minutes to go in the game. Had Chase’s shot gone in, Houston would have beat OKC, LA, and Dallas within a span of 11 days, and trailing late in each one of those games. That one shot was also the difference between Houston jumping to the 5th seed in the West, or falling out of the Playoffs and dropping to 9th, where they stand right now. Still though, only 1.5 games separate the 4th-9th seeds in the west, and it should be a tight race to the end of the season.
Should the Rockets make the playoffs, and I think they will, watch out. This team scraps and hustles like no other and always gives 110% effort. Keep in mind also, that Houston should have Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin back towards the end of the season. With the emergence of Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, and Chandler Parsons, along with height and interior defense of Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby, and the ever-consistent Luis Scola, the Houston Rockets pose as a serious threat to anybody.
About the Author
Written by Mohsin Ghesani
Huge sports fan! More specifically, huge HOUSTON sports fan. Love the Rockets and Texans!