Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/25/12

Nothing like dragging the game out into overtime! The Dallas Mavericks get a much-needed win over the Houston Rockets, 101-99 in overtime in Houston.

The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki who scored 31 points and had 7 rebounds; it was just enough points to put Dirk on the #19 spot in NBA All-Time scoring just ahead of Sir Charles Barkley, the man who just said  about a month ago that Dirk was done. Well guess what Barkley, he ain’t done yet.

After a dismal game in San Antonio the night before, and Dirk only scoring 16 points, he and the Mavs needed this win in order to regain their confidence and keep their playoff aspirations afloat. After suffering two huge double-digit losses to Los Angels and San Antonio, if Dallas would have lost this game, it would have put them as close to the bottom of the playoff berths as you could get if not knocking them out of the playoffs period and that would not be good at all.

Dallas started the game slow before they decided to get warmed up and really start playing. It was a see-saw back and forth effort between both teams as to who was going to win the quarters. Houston has some good young talent and two of their key starters, Kyle Lowery and Kevin Martin, were out of the game tonight, but that certainly didn’t stop the Rockets from testing the waters against the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

Goran Dragic, who studied under Steve Nash in Phoenix, led the Rockets not only in scoring with 24 points, but also in moving the ball across the court and setting screen, and pick and roll plays and did a very good job at it. He certainly wasn’t afraid of anyone and to take any shot, especially the three-point shot; he connected on 5 of his 7 three-point attempts and paced the rest of the team to take the shot and protect the paint on both ends of the court. He not only had his 24 points, but he also had eight assists and five boards, while Luis Scola added 19 points and had six rebounds to go with four assists.

Samuel Dalembert and Courtney Lee each scored 15 points and rookie Chandler Parsons added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Parsons most important points came with only 3.3 seconds left in the game when he took a three-point shot from the top of the arc to tie the game at 91 each and send the game into overtime. Marcus Camby had 4 points to go with his 11 boards.

JET added 24 points for the Mavericks as Brandon Wright had 14 points and a career high 7 blocks for the night, while Shawn Marion had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Over the last 3 games now Dallas has been struggling on the board and prior to tonight’s game, the last two against the Lakers and the Spurs, the Mavericks were outrebounded 100-63 rebounds and the offensive end of the boards is not a pretty picture either. Dallas was outrebounded by the Rockets tonight as well, 52-38 and of the offensive rebounds, Houston won in that category as well 16-5. Now one may ask, they won didn’t they? Well yes they did,  but if you are constantly getting beat to the ball on the shot and not able to get rebounds, well at least on the offensive end, it means fewer opportunities of second chance points and on the defensive end, it means they are going to get the second chance opportunity and possible score.  And with that the Rockets  scored 18 more second-chance points and had eight more fast-break points than the Mavericks. So this is why it’s important on the rebounding. 

Dallas has got to get more physical inside and fight for the ball, sometimes literally. The more the season wears on, the tougher it’s going to get and they have to be prepared for it. As was evident tonight. In the game against San Antonio, Dirk was getting pushed, beaten off the ball and man-handled with no calls and they have to be ready to fight fire with fire; tonight was the same thing, but at one time it was from his own teammate.

Granted it was an accident, but Dirk did have to get stitches after the game from being hit above the right eye from Brandon Wright while they were battling under the basket for a loose ball against some Rocket players. So it goes to show you, they have the fight in them, they just have to pull it out more often than  not and rub some elbows.

For quite some time Dallas has been referred to as a soft defensive team and I really thought that after last season, they along with Dirk had shed that title from their stat sheets, but sometimes it still creeps back into the midst of things.

According to Coach Carlisle, this was the biggest win of the season for the Mavericks and we turn right back around and play this same team in Dallas on Tuesday night before they head out for Miami on Thursday and Orlando on Friday.

The one really shining thing that Dallas did well was their bench play; Dallas’ bench outscored Houston’s bench 44-13. The Rockets bench shot just 25% from the field and had two assists, while Dallas’ reserves handed out eight assists. So I guess Dallas can brag about their bench a little more.

The Mavericks are going to have to keep this type of intensity up for some time, because before the game started, in the Western Conference, between the #4 seed and the #8 seed was only separated by 1-2 games and it the positions were changing constantly depending on who was winning and who was losing. Dallas only had a .5 game lead on Houston prior to the game and they needed to get some separation and they did. Now it’s just a matter of working out way back up the ladder and that can only come with “W”s on the scoreboard for Dallas. They have done it before and they can do it again, they just have to believe in themselves in order to do so.

And with that, I will bid you a  good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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