This result wIll be only stalling the inevitable at this point, but it makes you wonder: What if there had been no Rajon Rondo this series? What if it had been J.J. Barea and Monta Ellis in the backcourt from the start?
Barea came in and sped up the tempo of the Dallas offense. Monta Ellis clearly plays more freely without Rondo next to him. Rick Carlisle finally just went with his best lineup, and it worked.
Ellis put up 31 points, Barea had 17 points and 13 assists, Dallas owned Game 4 from the second quarter on and beat Houston 121-109, much to the delight of the Dallas home crowd.
Houston still leads the series 3-1. Game 5 is in Houston on Tuesday.
To have seen the start of this game, you would never have guessed the ending. The Rockets came out pounding the ball inside and getting the buckets they wanted — Dwight Howard was 5-of-5 in the first quarter, James Harden had 10 points on six shots (and he was attacking), and as a team the Rockets shot 68.7 percent. It was the kind of quarter where even when the Mavericks went to hack-a-Rocket and fouled Clint Capela he hit both free throws. At the end of one the Rockets were up 34-25.
Then everything changed. The second quarter started to feel like an elimination game, with some chippy play and Rick Carlisle picking up a technical for complaining to the refs. The Rockets missed five shots in a row, Howard went 1-of-9 from the free-throw line and Houston started to come apart (when teams go to hack-a-Howard he often gets passive). That plus some big plays from Monta Ellis and Barea pushing the ball in transition sparked a 28-11 Dallas run. By halftime, Dallas was up 61-53.
Then Dallas opened the second half on a 20-4 run. Houston shot 0-12 from the field to start the third quarter while Dallas hit 8-of-11.Dallas shot 67 percent in third quarter; they blew the game open and were never seriously threatened.
A lot of things went right for the Mavericks. Al-Farouq Aminu did a good job on James Harden, holding him to 24 points and a relatively quiet night. Dallas was strong on the offensive glass grabbing 37.2 percent of their missed shots. Dallas did everything well save hit their free throws (9-of-21).
The question is can they replicate all of that on the road? And can Kevin McHale make some adjustments to end the series Tuesday night and let his team get some rest while they wait for the winner of the Spurs/Clippers series?
Game 4 felt like the series we expected from these two teams, and Dallas showed Houston is going to have to earn Game 5.