The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks both fought to the bitter end in Game 3, but the Mavericks fell short as the Rockets won in a ridiculously high-scoring game, 130-128.
The Rockets took a large lead in the first quarter before the Mavericks came storming back, and the score was already high at the end of it as it was 42-36.
Rockets small forward Josh Smith scored the last five points of the quarter in the final 37 seconds, including a three-pointer with two seconds left.
The second quarter was another story as the Mavericks took control as they went on a 26-13 run. After taking a 72-59 lead, the Mavericks began to cool down as the Rockets went on a 7-0 run to close out the first half.
The Rockets continued to heat up as shooting guard James Harden scored 16 points in the quarter, and the Rockets took a 101-99 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Both teams played dreadful defense, as indicated by the score, and the Rockets shot 5-for-7 from the three-point line in the third quarter.
The defense did not get any better as the fourth quarter was the most intense part of the game. The Rockets began to pull away at the beginning of the period.
They went on an 13-4 run to take a 114-103 lead with just over six minutes left. With approximately four minutes remaining, the Rockets held a 10-point lead.
Mavericks shooting guard Monta Ellis trimmed the Rockets’ lead with two consecutive two-point shots. After Smith responded, Nowitzki made a three-pointer to make it 124-119.
Ellis made another crucial shot with 1:39 remaining to trim the lead to three points. Nowitzki then made two free throws to cut the Rockets’ lead to one point.
The Rockets were able to extend their lead to four after Harden drew a foul while making a shot for a three-point play.
However, the Mavericks still refused to quit with 33 seconds left as Nowitzki was fouled behind the three-point line. He took full advantage of this opportunity and made all three of his free throws.
The Rockets foiled the Mavericks’ rally though as Harden made a clutch shot that bounced out of the basket and went back in for two points with 12 seconds remaining.
Ellis responded with a two-point shot with eight seconds left, and Rockets shooting guard Corey Brewer missed a free throw to give the Mavericks a chance to tie it with two points.
However, Ellis missed the final shot of the game as the Rockets held on for a thrilling victory and a 3-0 series lead.
Harden finished with 42 points in the best performance of his playoff career, and he also contributed five rebounds and nine assists.
Center Dwight Howard added 13 points and a playoff career-high 26 rebounds. Four other Rockets players scored in double digits.
For the Mavericks, Nowitzki and Ellis each scored 34 points. Nowitzki added eight rebounds and four assists while Ellis chipped in two rebounds with nine assists.
The Mavericks are now on the brink of elimination from the playoffs, but they will have a chance to keep the series alive at home as they play the Rockets in Game 4 on Sunday.