When I wrote that I was really looking forward to my first taste of the famed Mavericks-Rockets rivalry, this game was not even close to what I was expecting. I probably should have known better, what with Dallas concluding a four-games-in-five-nights portion of the schedule. It was even mentioned in the matchup against the Lakers the previous night that Dwight Howard would likely not be taking the court for Houston, so that was my first clue. I’m not sure it was necessarily reasonable to expect that Rick Carlisle would choose to sit Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, and Wes Matthews together, however.
Whatever your expectations for Dallas are this season, those three are almost guaranteed to be the team’s best players, and to have them all inactive on the same night — well, let’s just say that game has to be considered a throwaway. Much to my surprise, the Rockets were simply not up to the challenge, and while they are battling their own injuries, I’m honestly not sure I’ve seen a worse opponent this whole season so far.
Now, I don’t mean to get too involved in hating on the Rockets, not yet. Maybe if this blog had been active last year when Houston was systematically dismantling Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, I would be throwing out every insult I could come up with, but that five-game debacle happened before I knew my heart was bursting with love for the Mavericks. Right now, the Rockets just seem like a team down on their luck, and I was raised not to kick someone when he’s down — at least, that was probably the lesson my dad most wanted to impart onto me when he raced toward me to stop me from setting a stray cat down on a barbed wire fence at the age of four.
The Rockets, who last year were only three victories over the unbeatable Golden State Warriors away from making it to the Finals, are off to a rough start, but that doesn’t mean we should try to stick their poor, wriggling bodies onto barbed wire. I fully intend to revisit the most heated matchups between Dallas and Houston over the years on this blog in the future, and I suspect it’s inevitable I’ll hate them at some point, but for now, I feel kind of bad for them.
After all, what kind of team lets the likes of the Raymond Felton, Charlie Villanueva, and Devin Harris go off to the tune of a combined 57 points? The role players on the Mavericks are growing on me little by little, but I can’t help but be a little annoyed when they get too many minutes, and that’s what this entire game was in a nutshell.
Raymond Felton does not look like a basketball player. Perhaps the shortest 6-foot-1 person I’ve ever seen due to his stocky build and somewhat beefy proportions, Felton went off like a Hornet in scoring 23 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. By the end, he was so red-hot Michael Jordan himself couldn’t have taken him in a game of one-on-one, and Felton’s dance moves underscored just how much he enjoyed his hot streak.
Ultimately, this wasn’t at all how I’d choose it, but the result was another Mavericks win, and considering they were 3-4 just a few short days ago, 6-4 sounds pretty nice right now. With an off-day Sunday and the only good players on the team resting Saturday, they should be totally refreshed and ready to hit the hardwood with meaning against the hapless 76ers. I mean no disrespect to the Maverick bench, but I didn’t shell out my first $26.99 monthly installment to watch Felton’s thick ass terrorize a Rockets team that still hasn’t stopped having nightmares about Stephen Curry. Note to Raymond: I’m sure you’re a really nice guy, and sometimes you really do make some awesome shots. Now please let Wes Matthews play instead, even though he’s bad.