Entering this series, the question for Rockets fans was whether or not the team would be able to function without point guard Patrick Beverley and shooty big man Donatas Motiejunas.
For game one at least, it looks like Houston will be able to manage without them.
The Rockets blasted Texas rivals, the Dallas Mavericks, 118-108, thanks to a steadier supporting cast around their star player.
James Harden shot just 4-of-11 from the field, but he was 15-of-17 from the line for 24 points, and added 11 dimes, the first time in the postseason he went over 10 assists.
On the other side of the court, Dirk Nowitzki also scored 24 on 14 shots, and hauled in eight rebounds.
Houston though, had more productive guys around Harden.
Despite playing just 17 minutes due to foul trouble, Dwight Howard logged 11 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. Former Maverick Jason Terry scored 16, 12 off three-pointers, while Terrence Jones (19-9-6) and Trevor Ariza (12-11-6) stuffed the stats sheet.
Nowitzki on the other hand, wasn’t as blessed.
Rajon Rondo, the major question mark entering this series for the Mavericks, finished with 15 points and five assists, but the majority of that came in the second quarter, when he exploded for 11 and three dimes. Ex-Rocket Chandler Parsons scored 10, but he needed to go back to the locker room due to knee pain (he eventually returned). Monta Ellis needed 16 shots to get his 16 points, while another big addition, Amar’e Stoudemire, was a paltry 2-of-12 from the field.
Credit to the Mavs though, they didn’t give up.
Houston went up by 15 near the end of the first quarter, but Rondo’s strong second period led to a slim, one-point lead, 55-54 in the second. It didn’t last long though, as a Harden split and an Ariza trey had the Rockets up four, 59-55, at the break.
The Rockets went up by 14 multiple times in the third, only for Monta Ellis to begin the final quarter by making it a five-point affair, 84-79. One more Houston push restored their 15-point buffer, and by the time Dallas made it single digits again, it was a 10-point game with 28 seconds, beyond the reach of the Mavericks.
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