DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — No one anticipated a defensive masterpiece when two of the league’s most porous defenses met Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center. And they didn’t get one either.
Houston and Dallas combined to shoot nearly 57 percent from the floor as the Mavs rallied from 18 down to top the Rockets 123-120.
“This was a pillow fight defensively,” said head coach Rick Carlisle. “It really was. This is not going to be anybody’s blueprint for learning to stop anybody.”
Houston jumped on the Mavs early, scoring 20 points in the game’s opening four minutes to take an early eight point lead.
“They made eight shots in a row,” said Carlisle. “We knew they weren’t going to keep shooting that way, but we also knew we had to step it up and make them feels us more than they were defensively.”
For three quarters, Houston had its way on the offensive end, scoring 101 points while shooting 64.9 percent from the field.
Dwight Howard, who made his first 11 shots, led Houston with 11 rebounds and 33 points on just 16 shots. Chandler Parsons added 21, while James Harden chipped in 23.
The Rockets’ lead grew to 18 late in the third quarter, but the Dallas duo of Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki just wouldn’t let up.
Nowitzki scored 14 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, with his sidekick Ellis chipping in eight of his game-high 37.
“If me and Dirk going like that, the other team has a problem,” said Ellis. “There going to pay so much attention to us. That opens it up for Vince [Carter], Jose [Calderon], and Shawn [Marion].”
And the shot of the night might just have came from Marion.
With 47 seconds remaining and Dallas trailing 119-118, Ellis found Marion alone in the corner for a wide-open three. The bucket gave Dallas a 121-119 lead — a lead they would not surrender.
The Dallas defense, though soft through three quarters, stiffened in the game’s final quarter, limiting the Rockets to 19 fourth quarter points.
“We took them out of their game when we went to zone,” said Ellis. “It kind of messed them up a little bit. When we did go back to man-to-man, we got into them and forced them to take tough shots.”
Harden and Howard both shot 1-for-5 in the decisive quarter, as the team made just 5-of-19 from the field.
The Dallas defense stiffened, but Carlisle offered another opinion as to why the Houston offense wore down.
“We were fortunate they played last night,” said Carlisle. “A lot of things had to go our way. Things don’t go your way unless you hang in and give yourself a chance mentally.”
Behind Nowitzki and Ellis, the Mavericks ‘hung in’ the game for three-plus quarters. Add in a Marion three, and the Mavericks are 6-0 at home…and 1-0 in self-proclaimed ‘pillow fights’.
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