James Harden

While Jeremy Lin was back in the lineup for the Houston Rockets, the team didn’t need too influential of a performance from him, leaning mostly on James Harden, leading the way to a 113-105 win over the Dallas Mavericks, while Dwight Howard contributed more in the rebounding and defense department.

So far, so good for Howard on his new team with a second consecutive double double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. The Rockets will start paying dearly at some point for teams sending the center to the line, finishing with 5-of-12 and shooting only 37.5% so far this season, but the Rockets don’t base their offense on him.

Even in a sloppy game with 22 turnovers, including six from Jeremy Lin and four from James Harden, the Rockets were a bit much for the Mavs talent-wise. Harden led the way with 31 points, and he’s a better player than Monta Ellis, finishing with 20. The bench was once again quite strong for the Rockets, getting a surprising contribution from Aaron Brooks scoring 13 points, as Omri Casspi proved just how effective he can be as a stretch four while either Asik or Howard are taking a rest, scoring 12 points on a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Jeremy Lin

The Mavs did feel in the game until the moment Dirk Nowitzki fouled out, as the Mavs outfouled the Rockets 37-20, which also had to do with some bad officiating, but mostly with the Mavericks unable to handle both Asik and Howard in the paint, which is quite a cause for concern. The duo combined for 28 rebounds and were clearly too much for the Mavs’ interior, who also found it very hard avoiding contact with James Harden.

The point guard issue in Houston is settled for now – Patrick Beverley is injured, which means we’re back to the formula from last season: Lin playing next to Harden, but not being an actual point guard. Lin finished with 14 points but only four assists; he and Harden combined for 7 assists and 7 steals, but McHale needs to find a way and make things a bit less messy and random in the backcourt, which stems from Harden being the main ball handler most of the time. Obviously, he’s better in creating points, but it often creates havoc on the court, and takes Dwight Howard slightly out of the game.

The attempt at creating some bad blood between Mark Cuban and Dwight Howard didn’t work for the media. Cuban was trash talking this week about Howard making the wrong decision, but that’s just venting frustration from not being able to build a championship caliber team once again and becoming the weakest team out of the Texas trio. Howard didn’t seem extremely motivated to prove something to the Mavs owner, and the two actually talked things out before the game.

What would you want him to say? He’s taking up for his team. I would do the same thing if somebody didn’t want to play with me. I would think they made a bad decision … if I would have went to his team he would have been happy.

Images: Source