Apr 27, 2015 12:19 AM

Ellis, Barea keep Mavs alive with 121-109 win over Rockets

The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) Monta Ellis scored 31 points, J.J. Barea had 17 points and 13 assists in his first playoff start since boosting Dallas' run to the 2011 championship and the Mavericks avoided elimination with a 121-109 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Dallas cut Houston's lead to 3-1 in the first-round series. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

The Rockets, trying to wrap up their first postseason series victory since 2009, missed 17 consecutive shots covering the second and third quarters. The most-prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history in the regular season was 7 of 31 from long range.

James Harden scored 24 points, and Dwight Howard had 13. But the big man was kept under control after scoring 10 points with two more alley-oop dunks in the first quarter.

Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas, while Al-Farouq Aminu, making his first career postseason start, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Barea and Aminu both had their first career playoff double-doubles.

Barea was one of Rick Carlisle's starting guards in the postseason for the first time since Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals. Barea started the last three games of that series against Miami, all Dallas wins on the way to the title.

Generously listed at 6-foot, Barea energized a Dallas offense that never was right after the failed trade for Rajon Rondo, and helped Dallas avoid just the second sweep in 14 trips to the playoffs with Dirk Nowitzki, who had 10 of his 16 points to help Dallas hang on in the fourth quarter.

Barea led a 24-7 run in the first half after the Rockets had gone up 12. Another 20-2 run with him running the offense in the third quarter was capped by his 3-pointer and a spinning layup by Ellis that gave Dallas its biggest lead at 81-57.

The Rockets were 2 of 21 from long range going into the fourth, when they made five of their first six. Josh Smith, who scored 23 points, had four of them. But Houston never got closer than nine.

Barea returned to the game with 9 minutes left in the first half, shortly before the Rockets pushed their lead to 41-31. After that, he led the 24-7 surge capped by his layup for a 55-48 lead.

After Houston got within three, Barea hit a 3-pointer then missed a driving layup that freed up Chandler for a put-back dunk and a 61-53 halftime lead.

Dallas outrebounded Houston 52-38, including 16 on offense after Houston rode offensive rebounding to a Game 3 win.

Howard, who paired with Josh Smith for five alley-oop dunks in a key fourth-quarter run of Houston's Game 2 win, looked like he was going to do it again.

One of his alley-oops was a spectacular running, one-handed slam that got a big roar from pockets of red-clad fans scattered among the Dallas fans in blue playoff T-shirts that were waiting on their seats.

But Howard had just one point in the second quarter and was 1 of 6 from the line. Two of the misses came after Devin Harris was called for a flagrant foul when he wrapped his arms around the 6-11 center and threw him to the ground as Howard tried to go up for a shot.

Howard finished 3 of 13 from the line and wasn't much of a factor after Harris' hard foul.


Rockets: Josh Smith was called for a technical for his reaction after getting intentionally fouled by Devin Harris in the third quarter, and Howard and Chandler were assessed double technical in the fourth the fourth and fifth of the game. ... Corey Brewer had 22 points.

Mavericks: Aminu started in place of Richard Jefferson, who is battling a calf injury but played. Jefferson had been starting for Chandler Parsons, out for the playoffs and awaiting right knee surgery. ... Carlisle, who was fined $25,000 for comments about officiating after a Game 3 loss, was called for a technical foul complaining about a foul against Nowitzki. ... Jefferson received a technical in an exchange with Smith in the fourth quarter.


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