The Rockets beat the Mavericks 103-94 to win the series 4-1 and advance to the second round for the first time since 2009. The series win is the Rockets’ first series win over the Mavericks in franchise history.
“It feels good. Obviously this isn’t it for us. We have bigger goals. It was a great series for our guys and I’m looking forward to the next one,” James Harden said.
The win is also coach Kevin McHale’s first playoff series victory as a head coach.
“It feels great to get it done,” McHale said.
Dallas jumped out to a quick lead, but Houston responded with a 7-0 run and built a 12-point lead behind seven points from James Harden and four points and five rebounds from Dwight Howard. The Rockets finished the first with 31 points and scored 30+ in the first quarter in four of the five games in the series.
The Rockets struggled from the free throw line in the second and finished the first half at 3-12. They also committed 15 turnovers, yet still held a six-point lead at halftime thanks to 16 from Harden and 54% overall field goal shooting.
Dallas scored five straight to open the third and cut the lead to just one. However, Houston responded with a big run behind 10 points and seven boards from Dwight Howard in the quarter. Howard finished the game with 18 points and 19 rebounds for his 32nd career playoff game with 15 rebounds – the most in the NBA the last 10 postseasons. He also has nine double-doubles in 11 playoff games as a Rocket.
“For us to put ourselves in a position to advance to the next round is big. Thank God for this opportunity, but the job is not complete. It feels good to move on out of the first round. But we’re not finished,” Howard said.
The lead got as large as 14 at one point as the Rockets committed just one turnover in the third and led by seven going to the fourth.
The Rockets had a chance to blow it open, but missed several easy looks and Dallas got back within five. Houston was 3-10 with three turnovers to start the fourth before Terrence Jones went for six straight, including a clutch three (his first of the series) that put them up nine with just over four minutes left.
“I tell our guys to work on the corner three’s all the time and that left corner three by TJ (Terrence Jones) was a huge shot. He rose up and shot it. TJ had a great stretch in that fourth quarter that kind of brought us home which was fantastic,” McHale said.
The Rockets closed it out with a big three from James Harden who finished with 28 points. Harden had 20 or more in all five games of the series and he and Tracy McGrady are the only players to average 25 points and five assists per game in their Rockets postseason career (per ESPN Stats & Info).
Game one of the second round against the winner of the San Antonio/Los Angeles Clippers series will be at Toyota Center Monday, May 4.
“It’s special because you have an opportunity to advance and move forward but when we put this team together we knew we had something special and we just need to continue to grow and continue to get better,” Jason Terry said.