Dallas, TX— 110 teams have been in the 0-3 hole the Dallas Mavericks found themselves in on Sunday evening. None of them ever came back to win the series. Dallas, however, wasn’t trying to make history this night, but started by holding off a broom like elimination, beating the Houston Rockets 121-109.
Head coach Rick Carlisle altered his lineup for Game 4, opting to start Al-Farouq Aminu and J.J. Barea. What an impact they had. Barea put up a double-double, dropping 17 points and adding 13 assists. Al-Farouq-Aminu had a double-double of his own with 16 points and 12 rebounds, playing perhaps the best game of his career.
“We’re going to fight,” Barea said. “We’re not going to quit. We’ve got to go to Houston, and we’ve got to bring it back to Dallas.”
Aminu quickly made his presence felt, scoring 6 points and grabbing four rebounds in the first 8 minutes of the game. He also made several hustle plays, diving for loose balls and even forcing James Harden into an 8 second violation.
Nevertheless, Houston took a 34-25 lead into the 2nd quarter, and were up by 12 at one point. However, the energy quickly changed. After Carlisle picked up a technical foul for arguing with the officials, the Mavericks rallied in a timeout, closing the half on a 30-12 run to take 61-53 lead into halftime.
It would be all Mavericks in the 3rd quarter, as they went on a 20-2 run, capped off by a Monta Ellis sensational spinning layup to give Dallas their biggest lead of the series at 81-57. The Rockets would not go away though, as Josh Smith made some big shots down the stretch, eventually cutting the Mavericks lead to 109-100 with 4 minutes to go in the final frame.
Fortunately for Dallas, tonight, unlike the other 3 games this series, had an answer for all of Houston’s runs, and sparred with them blow for blow. Whether it was Dirk Nowitzki with his one legged fade, Barea with a giant killer, or Monta doing his thing, the Mavericks got a complete effort tonight when it mattered the most, and, at least for the time being, lives to fight another day.
For the first time this series, Dallas held Houston’s role players in check, which was a major key to the game. Dallas was able to seal the deal and live to fight another day. And despite only getting double digit scoring six players on the Maverick roster, Dallas found a way.
Game 5 will be in Houston at the Toyota Center on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. CST as the Mavs look to take one more step towards an improbable comeback.
Houston, the league’s top three point shooting team only managed to shoot 22.6% from beyond the arc.
Dallas, an above average free throw shooting team, shot a horrendous 9/21 (42.9%) from the free throw line.
Devin Harris picked up a flagrant foul in the 2nd quarter when he wrapped up Dwight Howard to prevent an easy layup. This was just the first in a long line of chippy calls. Carlisle, Richard Jefferson, Tyson Chandler, Josh Smith and Dwight Howard were all issued technical in tonight’s game.
“When you’re at home, you’ve got to keep the energy up, you’ve got to keep the aggression up and you’ve got to do it in a way that’s clean. It was a hard foul. There was no intent to hurt anybody.” – Rick Carlisle on hard foul committed by Devin Haris
Carlisle had something to say (or lack thereof) to all of those who thought the sweep was inevitable.
Credit: Ronald Martinez | Getty Images
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