Van Gundy beat older brother Stan’s Miami Heat 90-70 on Tuesday in only the second coaching matchup in NBA history to feature a pair of brothers.
“I almost feel guilty,” Jeff said of beating his brother. “It’s like why were you blessed with talent and he wasn’t? There was a huge talent discrepancy and huge size discrepancy, which we’re happy about, but we’re going to have to play better to continue to win.”
Steve Francis struggled a bit with 14 points after scoring a season-high 31 in Saturday’s win over Orlando, but Houston’s defense displayed the kind of intensity Van Gundy preached as coach of the New York Knicks from 1995-2001.
The Rockets, who surrendered their lowest point total of the season, are thriving on Van Gundy’s physical style and boast the stingiest defense in the league at 76.8 points allowed per game.
The Rockets can’t afford to let up as they get set to play eight of ten games on the road, beginning the stretch against a Dallas squad that’s coming off its best game of the season.
“Coming together with the group we have, we’re bound to have some explosions,” Nash said. “Hopefully this was a glimpse.”
“The most important thing was our defense,” said sixth-man Antawn Jamison, who had 12 points. “We controlled the boards and got the opportunity to run. This is what we’re capable of doing.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 11): Rockets - 1st place (tied), Midwest Division. Mavericks - 2nd place, 1 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rockets - Francis, 19.5 ppg and 5.3 apg; Yao and Cato, 8.3 rpg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 20.3 ppg; Walker, 9.5 rpg; Nash, 7.9 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 21; Mavs, 100-85. At Houston, Nowitzki had 34 points and 11 rebounds as the Mavs completed their first ever season sweep of the Rockets and improved to 8-2 over the last ten meetings with Houston.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockets - 2-0 on the road; Mavericks - 3-0 at home.
INJURIES: Rockets - G Eric Piatkowski (ankle); F Eddie Griffin (suspension); F Ben Davis (knee); F Maurice Taylor (suspension); F Adrian Griffin (knee). Mavericks - F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); G Jon Stefansson (ankle); G Tony Delk (ankle).