Tag: Houston Rockets

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game Two

Smoove operators: Josh Smith, Dwight Howard lead Houston past Dallas to 2-0 series lead


Josh Smith and Dwight Howard were reliving their old AAU teammates days together.

Smith had seven fourth-quarter assists — five were lobs to Howard for rim-rattling dunks. Most of that came during a 19-4 fourth quarter Houston run where Smith’s passing carved up the slow feet of the Dallas defense. This was an 84-84 game early in the fourth quarter before the Smith-inspired Rocket Run.

Combine that run with 28 points and 12 boards from Howard, plus 24 points from James Harden, and you have a 111-99 Houston win Tuesday in Game 2. That puts the Rockets up 2-0 in the series as it shifts to Dallas — and puts the Mavericks in a must-win situation Friday night in Game 3.

Tuesday night Dallas was without Chandler Parsons due to injury, and they missed his defense on Harden.

This was also a game where — once again — Rajon Rondo was utterly ineffective for Dallas. To the point that after he picked up two fouls and a technical in the first :34 seconds of the second half Mavs coach Rick Carlisle never put him back in the game. Rondo has killed Dallas’ spacing (not just this playoff, since he came to town) and they were better with J.J. Barea on the floor (he had 13 points on 14 shots). Barea came in and Dallas hung around. Rondo was nowhere near his vintage self — he walked the ball up so slowly in the first half he got an eight-second backcourt violation — and after the game Carlisle dodged the questions about Rondo’s impact and how much they play him going forward (Rondo did not speak to the media). If one thing has become perfectly clear in these playoffs it’s that Rondo will not be a Maverick next season. However, in the 36 minutes Rondo has played in the two games in this series, Dallas is -37. If Devin Harris is healthy for Game 3 Rondo may not see the court.

If one thing has become perfectly clear in these playoffs it’s that Rondo will not be a Maverick next season.

Meanwhile, Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale went to his mid-season pickup in Smith and got a monster performance. Remember, this is the Smith that Stan Van Gundy waived and essentially paid to go away from his team.

Smith came in and scored seven straight points at one point in the third quarter, then ran a nice pick-and-roll with Howard, making the pass to set him up (Howard was fouled). Smith finished with nine points in the third quarter, 15 for the game.

Because Smith was feeling it, Tyson Chandler and other Mavs defenders gravitated toward him, and Smith carved up Dallas with his passing. Dallas just had a lot of minus defenders on the floor at the same time in the fourth quarter, and they lost guys and didn’t rotate on Houston cuts. It kept leaving Chandler in an impossible situation — watch Smith dunk, or get in his way and watch him lob to Howard for the dunk. Bottom line is the Mavericks shot 10-of-12 in the paint in the fourth quarter as they put on a dunking exhibition.

Howard, a dominant force early in Game 1, was not the same early in Game 2 — he was 2-of-6 shooting in the first half, had a few rebounds, and picked up two immature fouls that had him on the bench. Clint Capela stepped in with another solid performance in the first half. It was an uneven, back-and-forth first half that ended with Houston up 53-51. It wasn’t exactly art as both teams shot less than 40 percent.

In the third quarter, the Rockets started to find their groove. However, Monta Ellis came on with 11 points in the third quarter for Dallas — including a 30-foot buzzer-beater at the end of the quarter — and the Mavericks were right there, down by one after three. Ellis finished the game with 25 points. Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting. It wasn’t the big German’s night.

The fourth quarter was just too much Smith and Howard reliving their glory days. Dallas could not match their energy or execution (the Mavericks shot just 37 percent on the night).

Houston looks to be in control of this series — Dallas would need to win four of five to take it — and while Carlisle may figure out the questions that Houston poses, he may not have the right players to answer.

PBT Extra matchup to watch: Dallas has to find a way to deal with Dwight Howard

Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard

There was rightfully a lot of talk over the weekend about how Derrick Rose looked all the way back for the Bulls. He did. But another guy battling injuries during a couple years looked like a force of nature as well last weekend:

Dwight Howard.

He was simply the most dominant player in Game 1 of the Mavericks vs. Rockets series. Dallas struggled to score when Howard was on the court. Mavs’ coach Rick Carlisle has to get Howard out of the paint (or in foul trouble) or this is going to be an uphill struggle for a Dallas offense that already doesn’t look comfortable when Rajon Rondo is on the court.

Lou Williams wins Sixth Man of the Year

Toronto Raptors v Atlanta Hawks

Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams were the only eligible players to average at least 15 points per game.

Unsurprisingly, they filled the top three of Sixth Man of the Year voting.

But it was Williams, who ranked third with 15.5 points per game, who took the award.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, points):

1. Lou Williams, Toronto (78-34-10-502)

2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston (33-46-21-324)

3. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers (8-18-37-131)

4. Andre Iguodala, Golden State (7-16-17-100)

5. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (0-6-15-33)

6. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago (1-4-7-24)

7. Marreese Speights, Golden State (1-2-9-20)

9. Corey Brewer, Houston (1-1-4-12)

9. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio (0-3-3-12)

10. Taj Gibson, Chicago (1-0-3-8)

11. Aaron Brooks, Chicago (0-0-1-1)

11. Chris Kaman, Portland (0-0-1-1)

11. Anthony Morrow, Oklahoma City (0-0-1-1)

11. Dennis Schröder, Atlanta (0-0-1-1)

Williams was a strong candidate, and three of the four of us put him on our hypothetical ballots, including Kurt Helin slotting him at the top. Williams often took over the Raptors’ offense, especially late in games and quarters, and made plays. He wasn’t the most efficient, but Toronto often didn’t put him in position to be.

From top to bottom of this list, there are no egregious choices. I’d have a tough time ranking some of these players a top-three reserve this season, but at least they’re all pretty good and in a reasonable order.

That said, am I the only one who would have voted for Rudy Gobert, even if it’s just on a technicality?

James Harden and Dwight Howard show Mavericks what they’re missing in Rockets’ Game 1 win

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets - Game One

This is why the Mavericks wanted James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Dallas was linked to Harden’s restricted free agency that never was and strongly pursued Howard as an unrestricted free agent.

But the Rockets landed both, trading for and extending Harden in 2012 and signing Howard outright in 2013.

The result: A 118-108 Houston win over Dallas in Game 1 Saturday. The Rockets outscored the Mavericks by 14 in 10 minutes with Harden and Howard sharing the court and got outscored by four in the game’s other 38 minutes.

For much of the season, Harden built his MVP case as a one-man team – an assessment the Rockets embraced – with Howard injured. But Game 1’s result really shouldn’t be too surprising. Houston outscored opponents by 10.5 points per 100 possessions with Harden and Howard on the floor this season – which would lead the NBA most years.

Tonight, Howard looked more explosive than he has in quite a while – and showed it immediately. He blocked as many shots in the first five minutes as he did in any other 2015 game, and he continued to protect the rim and punish the Mavericks on the other end with quick finishes at the rim if they helped off him. The center finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five blocks in just 17 foul-limited minutes.

Harden (24 points, making 15-of-17 free throws) played his usual role as the offensive focal point, but he mixed in a bit more passing than usual. He dished 11 assists, setting up Terrence Jones (19 points, nine rebounds and six assists) more than anyone.

In a matchup that featured plenty of back and forth before the postseason even began, the Rockets have their first series lead since 2009. Of course, 1-0 means only so much, and you can bet it will remain tight between these closely linked Texas teams

Jason Terry (16 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting) and Corey Brewer (15 points on 3-of-4 3-point shooting), both of won a championship with Dallas in 2011, made several key plays for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza (pursued by the Mavericks in free agency last summer) and Josh Smith (pursued by Mavericks after getting bought out by the Pistons in December) had their moments for Houston, too.

On the flip side, Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki – once offered a max contract by Houston – had 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting and eight rebounds, but the Rockets exposed his defensive shortcomings. Chandler Parsons – plucked from Houston as the Mavericks’ prized offseason acquisition – was uneven and went to the locker room at one point with knee troubles that sidelined him late in the regular season. Rajon Rondo – pursued – pursued by the Rockets via trade before Dallas landed him – had a big second quarter to get the Mavericks back in the game, but his fit issues remain overwhelming.

There’s so much overlap between these teams, but here’s the key difference: The Rockets looked much better entering the series, and they were much better in Game 1. Where will Dallas go from here? As the Mavericks know all too well, James Harden and Dwight Howard aren’t walking through that door for them.

Q&A: Corey Brewer on trade from Timberwolves, his 51-point game, Harden’s MVP case, Rockets vs. Mavericks

Washington Wizards v Houston Rockets

Corey Brewer has been a key rotation player for the Rockets this season, after coming to Houston via trade from Minnesota in mid-December. I caught up with him recently to talk about how the trade came together, and how in the world he scored a career-high 51 points in a game last season, James Harden’s MVP-caliber impact, and why he believes Dwight Howard is the best center in the league. Our discussion is transcribed below.


You began the season with the Timberwolves, and at the time there were reports that said you had requested to go to a contender, and that Minnesota gave you permission to speak with other teams. Can you kind of walk me through how that all went down?

“Minnesota’s a good organization, I was happy there. It wasn’t like I wanted to leave there, but you know, coach Saunders — we had a good relationship. He knew and I knew that they were going young, and it really wasn’t going to be a season for us to try to make the playoffs. For me, I’ve been in the league for eight years, and it’s all about playing in the playoffs. That’s what it’s about; you want to win a championship. He helped me out. We looked at the trade options, he gave me permission to talk to teams, and it worked out perfectly.”

Were there any other teams in the mix besides the Rockets?

“It was probably the Rockets and Cleveland. Those were basically the two teams.”

You had a career-high game against the Rockets the season before, how much might that have played a part in their level of interest?

“(Laughs) I don’t know if it played a part in it. Coach McHale drafted me actually, so we have a good relationship. We go way back to ’07.”

How did that happen, that 51-point game? As far as I could tell, your career-high before then was 29 points. You’re not really known as being a volume scorer like that, so how does that happen?

“Well, Kevin Love wasn’t playing, and Kevin Martin wasn’t playing, so there was a lot of shots out there. I hit my first four out of five, and there wasn’t nobody else taking shots, so I had the opportunity to be a scorer. It worked out perfect — and we got the win.”

So you guys have the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. You beat them 3-1 during the regular season, can you take anything from those regular season meetings, or do you kind of have to throw that all out and start from scratch?

“You can take stuff from it, like what they did against us and how we were able to stop them, and what we did against them and how we can keep doing it. But also, it’s going to be totally different. In the playoffs, they’re going to make adjustments, we’re going to make adjustments. So it’s all about coming out in Game 1 and trying to impose our will on them.”

Where are some areas where you think you might have an advantage in the series?

“We have to get out in transition, and we have to take advantage of getting [Dwight Howard] the ball. Him and [James Harden] in pick-and-rolls should be really good for us.”

How big is it to have Dwight back healthy? He missed 40 games during the regular season, but you were still able to keep it together.

“It’s huge having Dwight back. Dwight’s a beast. He’s still probably the best center in the league, even though he’s been hurt lately. He’s still the best center in the league the way he impacts the game —  blocking shots, when he’s in pick-and-rolls, everybody (on the defense) has to help. It’ll be big for us to have him back.”

Most people have the MVP race down to James Harden and Stephen Curry. I went with Harden, I think what he’s done for you guys has been incredible, and not to take anything away from Curry, because they’re both probably equally deserving. I’m not going to ask you who your pick is, because I’m sure you’ll go with your guy Harden, but what has he meant to you guys? Why is he the MVP this year?

“He’s done a lot for us. Before me and [Josh Smith] got here, Dwight was hurt and he was out there carrying the team. It was him and [Trevor Ariza], they were playing like 45 minutes a game. It was crazy. Then when we got here, he upped his ability — the way he’s been scoring, the way he’s been passing, he just makes us go. He makes us so much better when he’s aggressive. When he’s scoring, then they start helping on him and he can really pass. The things he’s doing right now are unbelievable. He can go out there and get 50, and then the next night get a triple-double. It’s crazy.”

Tell me about some of the work you’re doing with the University of Florida Diabetes Institute.

“The Center for Diabetes is excellent. They’re trying to find a cure for diabetes, and I do a basketball camp in the summer, the Corey Brewer Back2Back Basketball Camp — it’ll be in Gainesville. I’ve been doing that for the last six or seven years and give all the funds to the diabetes foundation. It’s all about trying to find a cure, man. It’s very unfortunate because my dad passed away from diabetes, and my mom has diabetes also. So I know what it’s like for someone who has diabetes to go through that.”

Corey Brewer supports his alma mater, The University of Florida Diabetes Institute to raise money for education and awareness to prevent diabetes and those living with the disease.

For more info: http://www.coreybrewer.com/foundation/