Rockets Lose To Mavericks 107-98

Tuesday, November 6th 2007, 7:29 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ New Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman is about to find out how his club handles defeat.

After a 3-0 start, the Rockets ran into the first jam they couldn't escape, falling 107-98 to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. They won't have much time to analyze it, though, because they host the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

``It's tough, but that's our challenge,'' Adelman said. ``We have to learn how to beat a good team and get more people involved.''

Tracy McGrady exceeded his NBA-best scoring average with 35 points and eight assists, and Yao Ming had 21 points and 11 rebounds, but that lack of people involved proved to be the difference. None of the other Rockets scored more than nine points.

Dallas didn't have that problem.

Josh Howard scored 21 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 19, Jerry Stackhouse had 16 and DeSagana Diop added 10 points, 13 rebounds. Yet none of them was the star.

That would be Jason Terry, who showed how well he's adapting to being a reserve by scoring 31 points and guiding a late 14-4 run.

``He just had that look in his eye and his shot really looked good,'' Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. ``We are very surprised when he misses; we're kind of spoiled these days.''

A starter for Dallas in the finals two years ago and on the club that won 67 games last season, Terry showed his leadership late in the third quarter, scoring seven straight points with Nowitzki and Howard on the bench in foul trouble. Then he opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, a personal 10-0 run that took the Mavericks from down by five to leading by five.

Dallas was up only 91-90 when Terry started the winning burst with two free throws. He also fed Nowitzki on two baskets and hit two more free throws to cap the spurt with the Mavericks in control 105-94.

``We stayed in it, but they made more plays,'' Rockets forward Shane Battier said. ``We're still confident we can play with anybody in the league.

The Mavericks are 3-1, which is notable only because they were 0-4 at this point last season, with a 41-point loss to Houston mixed in. Dallas went on to match the fifth-most wins in league history before getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

``This was a key win,'' Terry said. ``They really put it to us in that early November game last year. We are one up on them now, but we can't get too excited because we have to go down there at the end of the month. They are a good team and a team to be reckoned with in this division.''

Johnson has tweaked things this year, making Devin Harris his starting point guard and Terry his first sub. Johnson has shown his commitment to the plan by keeping Terry as his top reserve even though Harris has missed the last two games with a bruised left thigh. J.J. Barea started both games; after a terrific performance last time, he struggled this time, with Terry starting the second half.

Terry started 558 of the first 654 games of his career, including 80 each of the last two seasons, but he embraced Johnson's plan, reminding everyone he won a national championship as a sub at Arizona. He's also set a goal of winning the Sixth Man award. He's off to a good start, having averaged 20 points over the games before this one.

``I'm very comfortable in this role,'' Terry said. ``I'm going to go out there and give us what we need, a good punch off the bench every night.''

Notes: This was the third time in four games that Terry has outscored the opposing bench. ... Houston's three starters besides Yao and McGrady scored a combined 19 points. ... The Rockets shot 42 percent despite making 12-of-24 in the first quarter. ... Dallas was 27-of-28 on free throws.