The Houston Rockets still aren’t scoring at their usual rate but may be finding a way to win when the 3-pointers aren’t hitting the bottom of the net. The Rockets hope to have James Harden (thumb) healthy when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Houston averaged 84 points in back-to-back losses to the Memphis Grizzlies over the weekend but avoided a third straight setback on Tuesday with a dominating inside performance against the San Antonio Spurs.
Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones combined for 44 points and 25 rebounds to overwhelm the Spurs’ frontcourt in a 97-90 triumph, making the team’s 5-of-18 effort from 3-point range a mere footnote. The Mavericks are fighting off a crowd at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff bracket and are not helping themselves with a 3-4 mark in the last seven games. Dallas is coming off a 116-106 home win over the Detroit Pistons, however, showing they can hang with a strong frontcourt as long as Dirk Nowitzki is making his shots.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Houston, FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (30-17): Houston has failed to reach 100 points in three straight games — its longest such stretch of the season — and was missing Harden due to a bruised left thumb on Tuesday against San Antonio. Jeremy Lin started and scored 18 points in Harden’s spot, but Howard and Jones did the bulk of the damage as Chandler Parsons struggled to find his shooting stroke. Since going off for 10 3-pointers in one half on Friday against Memphis, Parsons is just 8-of-27 from the field over the last two games, including 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (26-20): Dallas took two of the first three meetings with Houston this season and would like a win in the finale to wrap up any potential tiebreaker it might need down the line. “It’s usually a very opened-up game,” Nowitzki told reporters of the battles with the Rockets. “They love going up and down. They take quick shots, and that obviously is a lot of possessions for both teams. It’s been fun and close games.” Nowitzki averaged 29.3 points in those three games, including two of his four 30-point outbursts on the season. The star forward went for 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting in Sunday’s win over Detroit.
1. Mavericks G Monta Ellis scored a season-high 37 points in a 123-120 home win over the Rockets on Nov. 20.
2. Harden struggled to an average of 13 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the two games before sitting out Tuesday.
3. Dallas G Devin Harris, who missed the first 41 games with a toe injury, played a season-high 24 minutes on Sunday and posted his second straight 14-point outing.
PREDICTION: Mavericks 115, Rockets 108