Josh Smith caught fire down the stretch of Sunday's Game 4 loss in Dallas, finishing with 23 points (8-of-10 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), four 3-pointers, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block.
Smoove's shot selection tonight is a testament to the Rockets' offensive system -- he had five attempts beyond the arc, four attempts in the paint, and one "mid-range shawty" look from 11 feet. The Rockets are still firmly in control of the series with a 3-1 lead and they'll look to close out the Mavs with a win in Houston on Tuesday.
Corey Brewer drained 9-of-15 shots to finish Sunday's Game 4 loss with 22 points, five rebounds, one steal and one block in 32 minutes off the Rockets' bench.
Brewer hit one 3-pointer and went 3-of-4 at the free throw line. He was a 26.8 percent shooter from downtown during the regular season yet he's averaging 2.0 triples on 60.0 percent shooting from deep in four games vs. Dallas. That's less surprising when you consider that Dallas gave up 9.1 triples per game to opponents this season, the highest mark of any team in the league. The Mavs were also below-average vs. opponent's bench players, so this is a tailor-made matchup for Brewer.
Al-Farouq Aminu started Sunday's must-win Game 4 and made a career-high three 3-pointers to finish with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 12 rebounds, two assists and one block in 38 minutes.
Injuries forced Rick Carlisle to start Aminu tonight but it was a logical move, as Aminu had been playing far less than his excellent per-minute production warranted. Tonight's 3-point accuracy seems like a fluke but Aminu should have locked down a starting job for Game 5 with this performance, as Chandler Parsons (knee) is done for the season and Richard Jefferson is best utilized in short spurts off the bench.
Raymond Felton played through a mild hamstring injury on Sunday but he finished with only two points and one rebound in six minutes.
Felton didn't have any assists or defensive stats and he's unlikely to play more than 10-15 minutes on Tuesday even if his hamstring is 100 percent healthy. Even with Rajon Rondo unavailable, Felton is buried on the depth chart behind J.J. Barea and Devin Harris at PG.
J.J. Barea thrived as a starter on Sunday with 17 points, two 3-pointers, three rebounds, 13 assists and one steal, helping the Mavericks stave off a season-ending loss by beating the Rockets 121-109.
Rick Carlisle pulled the right strings tonight, enabling his short-handed squad to avoid a first-round sweep. When asked about Barea's excellent postseason play during his Mavs career, Carlisle said, "He's relished playoff opportunities ... I think that's how he's wired." Dallas will need Barea at his disruptive best when they try to extend the series to six games in Houston on Tuesday.
Richard Jefferson (calf) came off the Mavs' bench on Sunday to finish with five points, one 3-pointer and one turnover in only 10 minutes of action.
RJ didn't contribute any rebounds, assists, steals or blocks. His calf injury may have been the cause of tonight's dud but either way he's likely to play a reserve role again in Game 5, since Al-Farouq Aminu exploded tonight for 16 points and 12 rebounds as a starter.
Dwight Howard's free throw struggles were on full display in Sunday's Game 4 defeat, as he went 3-of-13 at the line to finish with 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes.
Howard missed two months with a knee injury and the Rockets limited him as a precaution down the stretch, a decision which has already paid off with solid production in the playoffs. He's averaging 16.3 points on 61.0 percent shooting, 12.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.8 blocks through four postseason games. He'd even made 12-of-18 free throws prior to tonight's struggles on the road.
Monta Ellis dropped a game-high 31 points to help the Mavericks win at home on Sunday, hitting 13-of-21 field goals and 3-of-5 free throws with two 3-pointers.
Ellis turned the ball over five times but he also had six rebounds, three assists and one steal. He looked very comfortable as the Mavs' unquestioned go-to offensive player with both Rajon Rondo and Chandler Parsons out of commission, and his usage rate (28.1 percent on Sunday) should be through the roof again during Tuesday's Game 5 in Houston.