Mavericks Top-5 Best Games of the Year: #2 Monta, Dirk Rally Mavs Past Howard and Rockets


Nov 20, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard

Jose Calderon

(8) celebrates a victory against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. The Mavs beat the Rockets 123-120. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

#2- Mavericks 123, Rockets 120 FINAL (Nov. 20)

Only a couple games into the season, but Monta Ellis was already turning into a nice consolation prize for the Mavericks missing out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.

The Dallas Mavericks were just one team out of the many who was in the running for Howard.

Many fans wanted Mark Cuban to sign Howard, but he elected to sign with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.

For the Mavs, it turned out to be the best decision for them.

Howard would’ve cost a fortune, leaving no room for Dallas to sign anyone else.

Instead, the Mavericks were able to sign Ellis for three years and still able to sign players like Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair, Samuel Dalembert and Jose Calderon.

Howard would go on to have an excellent season for Houston as the Rockets made the playoffs, falling to the Blazers 4-2 in the first round.

But for Houston, it was evident that it couldn’t win many games in the playoffs if the offense was run through the center, as apposed to Harden and a much quicker flow.

For Dallas, it was the third-straight season that Cuban came up short in signing a superstar.

After dumping Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea after their 2011 championship run, Cuban couldn’t sign Deron Williams. In the 2012 offseason, he couldn’t sign Howard the first time, in which Howard went on to play for the Lakers.

Cuban would go on to sign Darren Collison, Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo, all to one-year deals, that didn’t quite work out.

But for the first time, rather than not signing a big-name star like Howard, Cuban and the Mavs were still able to get some quality pieces to help aging superstar Dirk Nowitzki.

Nov. 20 marked the first game for Howard in Dallas since not signing with the Mavericks.

The Mavs were still undefeated at the American Airlines Center (6-0), but the high-octane offense in Houston wouldn’t care for such a record as the Rockets came out to a 40-29 lead after the first quarter.

Houston would make five 3-pointers and shoot 15-of-20 in the opening quarter. The Rockets also started the game by making their first eight shots.

Televised on ESPN, Dallas would cut the deficit to seven entering the half.

Despite coming as close as four, the Mavs got down as much as 18 in the third quarter before going to the fourth down 14.

The Rockets would struggle to start the final frame, missing their first four shots, committing two loose ball fouls and one turnover in the first three minutes.

As for the Mavs, Nowitzki would hit 3-of-4 shots to get Dallas back within single digits.

The Mavericks cut it to three after Ellis’ layup with 6:48 left before Houston would score eight of the next 10 points to bump its lead back to nine with five minutes to go.

Ellis, Dirk and the Mavs would end the game on a 20-8 run.

Calderon made a 3-pointer to make it six before making it five one minute later.

Houston finished the final 2:54 by scoring two points, both from the line.

Shawn Marion came up big, first cutting the Mavs’ deficit to 119-118 with 1:20 left then after a Rockets’ timeout, Ellis would find Marion for a 3-pointer to give Dallas a 121-119 lead with 47 seconds left.

Harden could’ve tied it with nine seconds, but missed the back end of his free throws.

Calderon pushed it to three before Harden’s 28-foot 3-pointer came up short.

Nowitzki went on to score 35 points, 14 in the fourth while Ellis came up with a season-high 37, 23 in the first half.

Calderon and Marion added 13 a piece.

Howard made his first 11 shots and scored a season-high 33 points to go with a game-high 11 rebounds after receiving some mild pregame boos.

Dallas shot 42-of-72 (58.3 percent). Houston also made 42 shots, but shot 53 percent.

The Mavs were outscored by 20 inside the paint, but outrebounded the Rockets 36-30.

Nowitzki passed Reggie Miller for 15th on the NBA scoring list on a free throw after a technical foul for defensive 3 seconds called against Howard.

Dallas would go on to win its eighth straight at home the next game and both teams finished the season series tied at two.

In the long run, not getting Howard was the best thing for Dirk and the Mavs.