Houston Rockets beat Mavericks- Player Grades

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) looks to pass as Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) defends during the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets beat Mavericks to move to 5-1 in preseason. Here’s the player grades.

Houston Rockets got back in the win column with a solid victory over the Mavericks in Dallas.

HoustonRockets

106

DallasMavericks

91

After a narrow loss to the Grizzlies in double overtime the Houston Rockets returned to form. Traveling back from China obviously left the players feeling fatigued, but against the Mavs there was no signs of weary legs.

Breaking down the quarters:

Houston Rockets jumped out to the early lead taking a 27-22 lead in the first quarter

In the second quartet the Rockets built on their lead taking the frame 20-16 and with that a 47-38 lead into half time.

Dallas Mavericks won the third quarter 29-25, the only quarter the Mavs would master.

The final frame also went to the Rockets where they posted a 34-24 score.

Overall, the Rockets controlled the game and the best sign is Houston seem to have learned from  last years’ bad habit of letting teams back into games.

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) looks to drives to the basket as Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Though Clint Capela entered the night still recovering from a minor injury he suited up to start. Patrick Beverley remained on the sidelines however.

As for figuring out which way Mike D’Antoni is leaning regarding the 15th roster spot he tipped his hat toward Kyle Wiltjer. Based on training camp invitees minutes Wiltjer led the pack with 12 minutes playing time.

The big question yet to be answered is whether the Houston Rockets franchise will decide to send Onuaku to Rio Valley Grande Vipers and sign him to a D-League contract. If Houston does that they can still sign Wiltjer and resolve the Donatas Motiejunas contract issues.

Digging deeper into the game the training camp invitees who saw few to no minutes were Gary Payton Jr, Bobby Brown, Chinanu Onuaku, and PJ Hairston.

Continuing another trend is three Rockets youngsters seem to be impressing D’Antoni. KJ McDaniels tops the list with 28 minutes and appears to have been freed from his shackles. Montrezl Harrell and Tyler Ennis also got decent minutes after their strong performances in the double OT loss versus Memphis.

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles as Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (left) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles as Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (left) defends during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No one starter played more than 29 minutes, but given the Houston Rockets jumped on the Mavericks early there was no need. Each of the starters looked like they had recovered from jet lag and some had much better performances than their last outing.

James Harden

Point Guard

A

In 29 minutes James Harden posted another double-double of 23 points and 11 assists. In addition he grabbed 5 rebounds along with a steal and a block. Turnovers continue to be an issue as Harden added 4 more. Clearly Harden is taking to his new role as starting point guard as his 11 assists attest to.

Eric Gordon

Shooting Guard

B

Gordon continues to gel well with his new team though he won’t be expected to start on many occasions as D’Antoni has earmarked Eric in the Sixth Man role. In 24 minutes Gordon scored 13 points adding an assist and a steal.

Trevor Ariza

Small Forward

C+

Not a banner offensive night, but then again his defensive assignment was rather tasking. In his 26 minutes on court he scored just 3 points missing 7 out of his 8 shots. Defensively he was passable though he had the worst plus, minus of the starters. 3 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, +8

Ryan Anderson

Power Forward

B+

After a lack luster performance in his last outing Anderson recovered for this match and was far more efficient from the field. To wit, he shot 4 of 9 from the field and 4 of 7 from deep. Anderson added 4 rebounds (2 offensive). Of the two former Pelicans, Gordon appears to be more comfortable in the Rockets system. That said, it’s still early and Anderson will have time to adjust given this Rockets’ juggernaut on offense. There are moments he seems a bit lost on defense, so we’ll hope he adapts on that end quickly. To that end, tonight he was far better on the opponents side of the court posting a team high plus 15

Clint Capela

Center

A+

For someone who was questionable to play Capela sure made the most of his 24 minutes on court. He posted a double-double of 12 points with 13 rebounds (4 offensive boards) adding an assist and was a plus 14 on the night.

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) passes around Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) and guard K.J. McDaniels (32) during the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

KJ McDaniels

Small Forward

A-

Clearly KJ McDaniels has enamored himself to coach Mike D’Antoni which has many (including this writer) thrilled. It’s been an ongoing dialogue as to why Houston traded to get McDaniels if they weren’t going to use him. Finally, H-Town fans are getting to see why so many were high on this youngsters skills. He’s put in the offseason work to improve offensively which is something D’Antoni will like. That said it’s McDaniels defensive ability that is a welcome addition. McDaniels played 28 minutes scoring 10 points, grabbed 7 rebounds (2 offensive) adding 2 steals and a block. I ask you, what’s not to love about this kid?

Wesley Matthews

Shooting Guard

A-

Matthews appears to have more speed after a season spent coming back from his Achilles injury. He gave the Rockets some issues on the night. Of the starters for the Mavericks he was the best performer on court. His task of trying to stop Eric Gordon was a tall one but he did a decent job. Matthews finished the night with a team high 15 points, also grabbing 5 rebounds (1 offensive) 2 assists and also had 4 big steals.

Oct 19, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) looks to pass as Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) defends during the second quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Funny, I watched the NBA TV Open Court television show tonight and the Rockets weren’t even a consideration in the conversation. Conversely, several of the former players cited the Mavericks with having a shot to be top 4 in the West.

Having completed several podcasts with FanSided experts I can tell you hardly anyone sees the Mavericks as “that” team. From my perspective they could be a dark horse – – to get into the playoffs, but I sure don’t see them being a top-4 seed.

The Rockets on the other hand appear to be much more cohesive and even their defense appears to be taking forward strides.

Of the youngsters, again it seems D’Antoni is ready to utilize McDaniels liberally. What isn’t known is whether Harrell who seems to have gained some respect from the coach retains those  MPG if the franchise settles the Motiejunas dispute.

The other note to take from tonight’s game is Tyler Ennis is quietly taking advantage of Beverley and Prigioni’s injuries to build a case for himself. Keep an eye on this situation as my money is on Ennis endearing D’Antoni as he offers a change of pace to the starters. Further, it’s clear he is calm on the court which is something Prigioni was regarded for. Given Ennis can also defend I think he’ll end up gaining playing time as the season progresses.

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The Houston Rockets will close out their preseason on Friday in San Antonio.

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