HOUSTON – How did things go so humiliatingly haywire for the Mavericks in the third quarter of what could be considered a high-stakes game?
“I don’t have an explanation for it,” coach Rick Carlisle said after the Mavs’ 136-103 loss Sunday to the Rockets, “other than they picked up their game and we didn’t match it.”
The Mavs have been a bad defensive team all season, giving up the fourth most points in the NBA, but allowing the Rockets to rip off 44 points in a dozen minutes was rock bottom.
It isn’t like Houston suddenly got hot, either. The Rockets had a 64-61 halftime lead after small forward Chandler Parsons put up 18 points, 3.2 more than he averages per game.
But the Rockets’ efficiency in the third quarter, which they opened with a 15-0 run, was just ridiculous. Houston was 14-of-20 from the floor, 6-of-10 from 3-point range, 10-of-13 from the line and didn’t commit a single turnover.
Parson, who finished with a career high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting, had 11 points in the frame and wasn’t even Houston’s leading scorer for the quarter. James Harden, who actually had a rough first half, had 14 of his 21 points and four of his seven assists in the third.
“It was just a damn layup drill and wide-open 3s,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “That was embarrassing.”
A few more notes from this miserable night for the Mavs:
1. Dirk’s dud: A dominant Dirk couldn’t have overshadowed this dreadful defensive performance, but Nowitzki’s off night didn’t help matters.
Nowitzki, who had scored at least 20 points in four of the previous five games, was held to only eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.
“I never got any good looks,” Nowitzki said. “They played me with a smaller guy. Every time I took him to the post, they were digging deep, the same thing really Memphis was doing.
“They’re not going to leave me much in pick-and-rolls any more. They’re going to make other guys make plays. Everything I get, I basically have to work for. I still should have made a couple of those shots I took in the second half.”
This was the second time in three games that Nowitzki didn’t have a field goal in the second half. He was also 0-for after halftime in the Mavs’ loss in Memphis.
“Maybe when the game goes like this, I’ve got to be aggressive earlier and not just take one shot in the first quarter to kind of get us going more,” Nowitzki said. “But I felt like we were scoring there at a decent clip in the first half, so I kind of let the other boys do it.
“Once we needed my scoring in the third quarter, I didn’t really have much going. Maybe I’ve got to establish myself earlier and we’ll see how that works.”
2. Adding injury to insult: O.J. Mayo left the Toyota Center with a hard plastic splint protecting his right thumb.
Mayo said he sprained the thumb in the first half, but he didn’t expect to undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.
“I’ll be all right,” said Mayo, who had 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
3. Another German import: Tim Ohlbrecht, Dirk Nowitzki’s teammate on the German Olympic team, made his NBA debut against the Mavs.
Ohlbrecht, a center signed recently by the Rockets after a stint in the D-League, scored three points in 5:37 of garbage time. He was greeted warmly by Nowitzki before the game and waited outside the Mavs’ locker room afterwards to meet with the German legend.
“Of course I’m going to look up to him,” Ohlbrecht said. “I’m just proud to make it in the same league as him.”