Outclassed: Short-handed Rockets no match for Mavericks

Are we alarmed yet?

The Rockets couldn’t stop Dirk Nowitzki or Caron Butler (or for that matter, J.J. Barea) and were run 101-91 in Dallas Monday night, falling to 5-12 on the season.

Houston shot under 36% from the floor and watched the Mavs hit a hair under 50%. They fall to 1-8 on the year in games in which they score under 100 points (and in their lone win, they had to score 99). It’s fairly official now: Defense is not their strong suit.

And the third quarter was just an abomination. The Mavericks hit 13-17 shots and weren’t challenged by the Rockets on defense (to boot, the damage was done against the Rockets starters). A 7-point deficit turned into a rout, which meant unless your name is Jermaine Taylor, you pretty much stopped paying attention at this point.

Luis Scola scored 15 points in just 21 minutes. Kevin Martin scored 10 of his 17 points in the first quarter, but shot just 1-9 in the final three periods. Shane Battier, after a strong showing against the Thunder, slipped back into invisible mode.

Concerned? Yes. I still believe firmly that the team must get Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks back in the fold and then (and only then) draw firm conclusions about the size of changes to be made, but changes do need to be made. We are 17 games in and the Rockets have already lost to 8 different teams in their conference alone. When the name of the game is “playoffs,” that has to concern you.

On Deck
5-12 and it’s not getting any easier. December greets the Rockets with a home matchup against the 13-4 Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow, then they hit the road for a back-to-back against Memphis and Chicago (both teams have winning records at home).

There has been no firm timetable given on Yao and Brooks, but Rockets play-by-play man Bill Worrell sounded pretty sure during the broadcast that they are still “three weeks away.” If that’s true, the Rockets will have to find a way to get in gear (at a minimum, stay afloat) before they get that returning help.

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