In a game that meant a lot more to the Houston Rockets than the Dallas Mavericks, James Harden didn’t need to do something very special following his career night, relying on his teammates to carry him en route to a 108-101 victory.
The Mavericks seemed to be carrying the momentum from their big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder into this game but their scoring simply stopped in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rockets to take over through some James Harden penetrations and excellent ball movement, leading to plenty of open shots for Jason Terry and Corey Brewer.
Harden was coming off his career-high 51 points game, and was bound to deliver something a little bit less impressive. Harden didn’t shoot all that well (6-of-15 from the field) but ended up with 24 points thanks to another bountiful harvest when it comes to reaping fouls and going to the line, adding 6 assists and doing extremely well with Josh Smith and Corey Brewer playing next to him.
Trevor Ariza continues with his good shooting form, scoring 19 points and hitting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Josh Smith did an excellent job in 32 minutes, allowing Dwight Howard to come back slowly (18 minutes this time), scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, also adding 2 steals and 2 blocks. Corey Brewer scored 14 points and is often the man next to Harden in fourth quarter runs.
Ariza, Smith and Brewer are in the same paragraph because of this next bit: Chandler Parsons, scoring 11 points on a bad shooting night for him against his former team, is making $14.1 million this season. The Rockets’ mentioned trio is making a combined $15.3 million this season, although Smith was making that kind of money before getting released by the Pistons, so he didn’t really have to worry about his next salary.
This game meant a lot more for the Rockets because of the playoff seeding. The Mavericks, unless something drastic and weird happens, are going to finish seventh in the West. As of now, it’ll lead them to another clash with the Rockets, who have a 0.5 game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies to finish second in the West. The Rockets have won three of their four meetings with the Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki with 21 points in this loss.