In a game they led 87-67 after three quarters, the Dallas Mavericks held off a furious push from the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter before pulling away for a 111-100 win on Friday night at American Airlines Center.
Houston’s James Harden led all scorers with 26 points while the Mavericks had a much more balanced night offensively, getting 17 each from Al-Farouq Aminu and Devin Harris off the bench while starters Chandler Parsons and Rajon Rondo finished with 13, a total matched by Charlie Villanueva off the bench.
Parsons had to leave the floor at about the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle. He did not return.
Per Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Parsons left the arena in a walking boot after Friday’s game and will have an MRI on his left ankle on Saturday.
One big positive for Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle in his postgame presser was the fact his second unit delivered 51 of Dallas’ 111 points.
"Bench play was great," Carlisle said. "We had a lot of guys in double figures. It’s the kind of effort we needed, the kind of balance we needed to beat these guys. I’m just really proud of these guys. It’s a win we really needed. To get it is very important."
Aminu’s performance might have been most impressive as he finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in just under 30 minutes.
It was a showing that Rockets head coach Kevin McHale mentioned in his postgame remarks to the media just outside the Houston locker room.
"Yeah, he had 17 points and 12 rebounds. We couldn’t keep him off the glass," McHale said of Aminu.
Houston started strong, racing out to an early 8-0 lead, forcing Carlisle to burn his first timeout. But by the end of the first quarter, the Mavs led 24-20 and the Rockets had already committed nine turnovers.
Dallas led 54-43 at halftime and it looked like the result was all but academic.
After three, this was a game it looked like the Mavs had all locked up as Dallas had a 20-point lead at 87-67 through 36 minutes of play.
However, the Rockets weren’t about to go quietly into that good night. Houston went on an impressive 26-11 run and got as close as 98-93 with 2:15 remaining. However, the Mavs finished strong and in the end, came away with an 11-point win, a final score that was a bit deceiving.
The Rockets finished with 21 turnovers, miscues which led to 23 Dallas points. So naturally, that was one number McHale was less than pleased with.
"We weren’t very sharp tonight," McHale said. "We had 21 turnovers and nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game. We weren’t very good."
Still, even if much of the fourth quarter was white-knuckle time for Mavs fans, who deserve a lot of credit for really ramping up the atmosphere as the game got close late, it was in the end a nice rebound for Dallas from the 104-89 loss at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Chesapeake Arena.
"Last night was a poor performance and our guys knew it," Carlisle said. "We knew a lot of tonight was going to be about keeping our poise. It’s a heated rivalry. They’ve got some guys that are instigators and I thought we held up well, kept it together and stayed aggressive."
The Mavs will not practice on Saturday before returning to the floor Sunday night against the Charlotte Hornets, a game with an early start time of 6:30. That game should mark the Dallas debut of Amare’ Stoudemire, who was signed earlier this week.