They forced a Game 7, but unfortunately the same Rockets never really showed up for it.
Jason Terry (32 points) and Josh Howard (21) ran circles around a Rockets team that didn't look anything like the one that we've seen for most of the season as the Mavericks cruised to a 40-point ass whooping, 116-76.
As do all losses in a Game 7, it ends the series and season for the Rockets while the Mavs advance ... moving on to play Phoenix.
If this had been a best-of-eleven game series, you could make a case that the Rockets could have / should have swept Dallas in 6.
Game 7 was nothing like that. From beginning to merciless end, the Mavs scored at will and completely shut down anyone not named Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.
In fact, with the exception of McGrady, Yao and David Wesley, no other Rocket had scored a single point until there were a couple of minutes left in the first half.
It was that bad.
Bobby Sura, Scott Padgett, Mike James, Jon Barry ... all of these guys looked like their reputations said they were before we got them -- not like the super, playing-above-their-heads role players they have been for us all season.
Terry did a number on the Rockets, and really did all series. He was the MVP for Dallas ... if he doesn't show up, they're talking about dealing Dirk Nowitzki this offseason because the Rockets completely contained him and got inside his head this series. Considering that the Rockets do not have a single playable power foward (with Juwan Howard out) and defended Dirk throughout the series primarily with a shooting guard ("I thought Tracy defended him as well as you can defend him," said Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy), it was an amazing accomplishment.
But Terry stepped up and just made an insane number of triples in this tournament.
"Terry had a great night and a great series. You have to give him a lot of credit," said Van Gundy. "Obviously no one [for us] had a game tonight we can be proud of."
Still, for Rocket fans, it was one hell of a roller coaster ride this season ... even if it ended in a captured-on-video derailment, fiery crash, the fatalities of a handful of carnies and some potential lawsuits.
Yao Ming is still an up-and-down player, but this series he hit over 65% of his shots and averaged over 21 a game. Yeah, he missed some big free throws in the Finley-extends-court-to-98-feet Game 5 and didn't show up for Game 6, but he played well in this series. He made the Erick Dampier claims of him being the "best center in the West" completely laughable.
Hell, Dikembe Mutombo did.
I also don't get down on the role players. Sura, James, Wesley and Barry are big, big reasons we won 51 games this season. We need to bolster the roster, but not forget what they did.
But most importantly, the reason the future is so incredibly bright is McGrady.
I don't have a lot of friends who are Mav fans ... most of my ties are in Austin, so a lot of my friends are Spurs fans, who wouldn't give an ounce of credit to the Rockets if their families' lives depended on it.
But many of them have emailed me privately to say frankly that the combo of Yao and T-Mac is scaring the bejeezus out of them.
McGrady said it best in the postgame press conference.
"I'm not going to hang my head. I thought we did a hell of a job this year. I'm 25 years old, and I got a lot more years in this league. I will be back next year."
And so will we.