You didn’t think a third quarter could be worse than the Dallas Mavericks’ meltdown in Memphis on Wednesday?
Well, how about the third quarter Sunday night in Houston?
This was every bit as much of a defensive disaster as the third quarter in Memphis was an offensive mess. In fact, the net sum of the damage was significantly worse. The Houston Rockets routed the Mavs by a 44-17 margin in the third, compared to the Grizzlies’ 24-5 edge the other night.
After halftime, the Rockets reeled off 15 points before the Mavs finally scored on a Brandan Wright drive at the 7:08 mark. Houston made sure the entire fourth quarter consisted of garbage time by lighting up the Mavs with 70 percent shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, in the third. The 44 points were the most allowed by the Mavs or scored by the Rockets in any quarter this season.
Houston small forward Chandler Parsons actually missed a shot in the third quarter, but that was his only errant attempt during his career-high 32-point performance. Parsons, who had 11 points in the third quarter alone, was 12-of-13 from the floor and 6-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Rockets’ starting backcourt of Jeremy Lin and James Harden finished with 21 points apiece despite not playing a second after the third quarter, which ended with the Rockets up 30. Lin had nine assists, while Harden dished out seven dimes.
O.J. Mayo led the Mavs with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but that wasn’t nearly enough to keep it competitive during such a defensive debacle. Dirk Nowitzki had an off night, scoring only eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.
What it means: It’s time to stop mentioning the Mavs’ playoff hopes, right? They head home for Wednesday’s rematch with the Rockets trading eighth-place Houston by six games in the West standings. At 26-33, the Mavs have better chances of beating Harden in a beard-length contest than they do of extending their postseason streak to 13 years. Not that there has been any doubt for several weeks, but this loss guarantees that the Mavs will fail to win 50 games in a full season for the first time since 1999-2000.
Play of the game: Pick a Parsons bucket. The one that might have hurt the Mavs the most came seconds after Wright’s bucket to snap the Mavs’ almost-five-minute scoreless funk at the start of the second half. Seconds later, Parsons swished a 3 from the left wing off a feed from Harden, stretching the Rockets’ lead to 19. That was Parsons’ 10th straight made field goal in the game.
Stat of the night: The Rockets’ 44 points in the third matched the third-highest scoring quarter in the NBA this season. The only two higher-scoring quarters were the Los Angeles Clippers putting up 46 in the first against the Rockets on Feb. 13 and the New York Knicks torching the Chicago Bulls for 45 in the fourth on Dec. 21.