Lost in Space

You know how I wrote that the Mavericks losing to Oklahoma City wasn’t the kind of loss that made me mad since the opposition was so good? No? This is the first and only post you’ll ever read because you got linked from Basketball Reference and you have no intention of reading anything else here? Well, take my word for it: I wrote that I understood losing to the Thunder. Losing to the Rockets doesn’t sit so well with me, however.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the Rockets are a bad team at all, and they’re definitely on the upswing at the moment. It’s just that there’s an unspoken agreement for all Mavericks fans to hate the Rockets, and I mean to intensely hate. I didn’t even like the Mavericks until October of 2015, but it was odd how much I hated the Rockets the very day I became an MFFL, a Dirk Dude, a Cuban Cat.

I wanted my team to prevail against their sworn enemies, but alas, they could not. True, the Rockets have now won eight of their last 11 after Sunday’s victory over the Mavs, and true, the game was on their turf, but it still stings. Dwight Howard didn’t even play, for God’s sake. It could have been much tougher if he had been on the floor, as the numbers show that the Rockets are a total of five points better per 100 possessions with their big man in action. I feel cheated when it comes to Howard; he hasn’t made it into any of the three games his team has played against Dallas this season. Get in there, damn you.

Things looked promising going into the half. The Mavericks led 58-50, and they had just finished a quarter in which they outscored Houston 29-14. There was reason to be confident, to believe this game would go their way. Then they gave up 65 points in the second half and crawled off the court whimpering at the end of the game.

The Mavs were out-shot, out-rebounded, and in general out-played. They turned the ball over twice as often (14-to-7) and moved the ball significantly worse (27-to-17 assist deficit) than did Houston, and again they were killed in transition. James Harden finished with a triple-double, and even Trevor Ariza of all people blew up for 29 points, including six three-pointers.

If there is something positive to be taken from this disappointing loss, however, it’s that Chandler Parsons seems to have unlocked god mode. Fresh off a 30-point outing and a 26-point outing, the handsome Floridian devil went off for another 31, and his season numbers are starting to look almost as pretty as that flawless face of his: 48.1 percent field goal percentage, 39.2 percent from downtown. Oh Chandler, you complete me.

Next, the Tunisian gift that is Salah Mejri. Mejri has earned himself some real minutes at center lately, and with Zaza Pachulia out due to an alarming lack of khachapuri consumption, Salah got a start and logged nearly 30 minutes. While I’m sad those minutes came at the expense of the delightful JaVale McGee, Mejri is doing stuff that I didn’t think anyone on this team other than McGee could.

He’s doing so well it’s high-time I learned how to actually say his name. You see, the “J” in his last name is not audible. It’s actually pronounced “Mez-re,” which is appropriate, because he’s a regular MEZ dispenser of highlight reels lately. Just look at this nifty chase-down block on Harden, whose beard was probably slowing him down a little, to be fair.

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Even though this one slipped away from the Mavs in the second half, there is still hope for the rest of the way. The Rockets may well be coming to life, and if that’s the case, all the better for the rivalry. As I’m fond of noting at the end of these posts, however, none of it is going to matter after the first round if you’re not the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers. So there’s that.

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