Houston Rockets finished off the Western Conference series against the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 to advance to the 2nd round of playoffs. The Rockets broke a 6-year jinx since 2009, when they last surpassed the first-round playoffs led by star Yao Ming.
After the Mavericks restored some pride by pulling off a win in Game 4 at home, the Rockets displayed no intention of extending the series further at Toyota Center, Game 5 on Tuesday. The Houston outfit won 103-94.
This time, James Harden shouldered the Rockets to an emphatic series win. The bearded star scored 28 points and Terrence Jones added 15 to the winners tally, of which 10 came in the all-important final quarter to ensure Rockets’ victory.
“It’s just the beginning,” revealed James after guiding his side home. “We’ve got bigger goals than this.”
The Rockets established control over their rivals, snatching the lead early in the first quarter and never giving it up till the end, but for a brief spell the Mavericks lifted their game with a 7-0 run to reduce the margin to three with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.
During that critical juncture of the game, Jones played his part. He made a 3-point play, followed it with a corner 3 to extend the lead to 94-85. Dwight Howard, who sat out half the season due to injuries, had 18 points and 19 rebounds to ensure his side’s dominance upfront.
Howard later said, “To make it to the next round is big, but the job is not complete.”
For the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki missed all six of his long-distance tries, though he scored 22 points on an 8 for 23 mark from the field.
The Rockets now await the winners of most sought-after series of the Western Conference playoffs between Spurs vs Clippers.