DALLAS – Since Raymond Felton and Richard Jefferson weren’t at full strength, the Dallas Mavericks decided to start J. J. Barea and Al-Farouq Aminu in their places Sunday night.
The moves paid off.
Barea scored 17 points and handed out 13 assists in picking up his first career playoff double-double. Aminu responded with 16 points and 12 rebounds in posting his first career playoff double-double.
As a pair, Barea and Aminu were the energy players the mavs rode to a convincing 121-109 win over the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of a first-round best-of-seven playoff series.
"I thought J.J. and Al-Farouq were phenomenal tonight,’’ said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth period. "Both of them got in because Raymond and RJ were banged up and it was kind of the next man up mentality.
"Stepped in and both were great."
The greatness by Barea and Aminu helped the Mavs get within 3-1 of the Rockets in this best-of-seven series.
"They’ve been two of the most effective players in the series,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "But we had injuries, too, that influenced (putting them in the starting lineup).
"Felton started the previous game – he was banged up (hamstring). RJ was banged up, and so that contributed to it as well.’’
Whatever the case, the Mavs may be cleaning put their locker rooms Monday if not for the bang-up efforts by Barea and Aminu.
"I thought J. J. was wheeling around, running in the paint, getting good looks,’’ Nowitzki said. "I've never seen him with 13 assists in one game, so that was phenomenal.
"He was attacking and making stuff happen for us, and that's what we need him to do."