James Harden, Dirk Nowitzki

The Dallas Mavericks look impressive at times, but they won’t win the NBA championship. Not even close. Their 111-100 victory against the Houston Rockets was more of a spotlight on James Harden carrying a team on his own into another disappointing playoff finish more than anything else.

In a game that had both teams struggling to create offense in the first quarter, the Mavericks were the ones to find rhythm and the hot hand first, never looking back after opening a comfortable lead. Eight players scored in double figures, led by Al-Farouq Aminu and Devin Harris, both scoring 17 points. Whenever the Mavs don’t need Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis to step up and save the day, you know it was either them getting blown out or a rather easy game for a team that can beat anyone and lose to anyone and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Nowitzki and Ellis were both held to 12 points, although they didn’t really try forcing anything. Rajon Rondo scored 13 points on a rare good shooting night from him (6-of-9 from the field) and finishing with just 3 assists, as the Mavericks continue to try and figure out what to do with him and how to make him more useful. Chandler Parsons also scored 13 points while both Aminu and Tyson Chandler ended up with double doubles.

Harden scored 26 points to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Great for him. He looks around, and is still waiting for Dwight Howard to return. A player that might be easy to criticize, but adds so much to this team on defense and also on offense, even if he’s fading away a lot quicker than anyone imagined. Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer and the enigmatic Josh Smith: They’re all nice additions and helpful pieces to lean on, but enough when a championship is what you’re aiming for.

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