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Game 28: Mavs at Rockets presented-by-bbva-2 Subscribe via RSS

HOUSTON — After back-to-back losses to Toronto and Phoenix, the Dallas Mavericks were not full of Christmas cheer as they traveled to Houston for Monday night’s matchup against the Southwest Division rival Rockets.

Giving up a 19-point lead to the Raptors Friday and then allowing a season-high 123 points one night later to the Suns, the Mavericks looked to take their anger out on the short-handed Rockets. And with the Houston team taking the court minus All-Star swingman James Harden (sprained right ankle) and starting point guard Patrick Beverley (fractured right hand), the Mavs attempted to steal a win in front of the Toyota Center crowd.

Mission accomplished.

Led by 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, who moved into 13th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list ahead of Alex English (25,613), the Mavs staged a second-half rally. And after a 111-104 victory, the Mavericks (16-12) left Houston in the Christmas spirit.

“Another great milestone,” Nowitzki modestly said of his accomplishment. “Alex was an unbelievable scorer in this league in the ’80s and in Denver. I wouldn’t have thought that obviously 15, 16 years ago when I came here I was going to be passing him one day, so it’s a fun little accomplishment. But I think the win is more important for me tonight.

“You don’t ever want to sit on two days at Christmas with a three-game losing streak, so we definitely wanted to have this one in the second half and I think we showed it defensively in the third quarter. We competed and everybody who was out there played hard.”

With his team in need of a spark and size against All-Star Dwight Howard inside, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made a change to his starting lineup, inserting center Samuel Dalembert into the first unit for the first time since Dec. 1 in place of DeJuan Blair. Meanwhile, after entering the night just 14 points away from passing English for 13th place on the league’s all-time scoring list, Nowitzki went right to work in the first quarter.

Still, even despite Nowitzki’s seven first-quarter points, the Mavericks trailed 26-20 after 12 minutes of play.

Leading the Mavs’ reserves off the bench, sixth man Vince Carter took charge of the offensive responsibilities early in the second stanza. Backup big man Brandan Wright followed suit as the Mavs stayed within an arm’s reach to keep the Rockets (18-11) from pulling away. Carter then fed starting point guard Jose Calderon for a 3-pointer from the wing, bringing the Mavericks to within one, 41-40, midway through the period.

But Houston immediately answered with an 11-2 run, pushing their advantage into double digits. And despite Nowitzki moving into a tie with English on a jumper late in the half, the Mavericks would face a 57-50 deficit entering the intermission.

Led by Nowitzki’s 13 first-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, the Mavericks stayed in the game through 24 minutes of play while Houston’s 62.2 percent from the field bettered Dallas’ 52.6 percent. Meanwhile, Howard led all scorers with 16 points at the midway mark, adding six boards as the Rockets held an 18-14 edge in the rebounding department.

“You know, we had a disappointing first half, and at halftime we just talked about hanging in,” Carlisle said. “We were very fortunate to just be down seven, and we felt like with defense in front of us in the second half we could help the guys a little bit and just felt like if we hung in we’d give ourselves a shot. We started getting some stops, the ball was going in the basket, we got some momentum and we had a lot of guys step up.”

Wasting little time to make history once again, Nowitzki moved English aside and took sole possession of 13th place on the scoring list with a jumper at the 11:09 mark of the third quarter.

The 7-footer didn’t stop there, scoring in transition to cap off a 15-1 Dallas run coming out of halftime to take a 65-58 lead with 8:08 remaining in the third. However, with Nowitzki on the bench resting and Calderon forced to sit with a fourth personal foul, the Rockets would come charging back.

That’s when Monta Ellis began to break out of his shooting slump following a 0-of-4 first half, while Carter’s end-to-end play — drawing a charge on Chandler Parsons on defense and connecting on a 3-pointer on offense — helped the Mavericks grab a double-digit lead of their own. And after leading by as much as 12, the Mavs took an 86-78 edge into the fourth period.

“I thought the third quarter was key. We came out at halftime really on the same page, got some stops and made it harder on Dwight,” Nowitzki explained. “The 57 points they scored in the first half was too many, so I thought defensively we held them to 21 in the third and offensively that gave us some life. We played out in transition some, we hit some threes … and that defense in the third quarter was what won us the game.”

Thanks to a 3-pointer from second-year standout Jae Crowder to open the fourth, the Mavs continued to keep the Rockets at bay until Calderon returned to the court. Back-to-back treys from Ellis and Crowder then lifted the Mavericks to a 95-82 lead, forcing a Houston timeout with 9:13 left to play.

But again the Rockets refused to go away quietly while putting together a 7-0 spurt after the margin between the teams reached 14. Nowitzki then did the honors of putting the home team away, draining back-to-back-to-back jumpers to keep the Rockets at a safe distance. Ellis put the finishing touches on the win from there with clutch strokes at the free-throw line.

Finishing with 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting, Nowitzki led the way to the win while adding six rebounds and three assists.

“Listen, he’s the great Dirk Nowitzki,” Carlisle said with high praise for his franchise player. “He’s one of the great players in the history of the game, and he’s passing these guys left and right. … The guy has changed the game with the way he plays. The game is not the same. You know, when a 7-foot-1 guy comes in the league and does what he does, you know, it changed the power forward position forever and it reflects in the modern game now.”

Ellis ended a 4-of-16 shooting night with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Carter added 16 points off the bench. Calderon pitched in 15 points in the first unit and Crowder recorded 11 points in a reserve role, giving the Mavs a 35-21 margin in bench scoring.

Howard led five Rockets in double figures with 29 points and 15 rebounds, hitting 10 of 16 from the field as the Rockets’ 54.3 percent shooting bettered the Mavs’ 50.6 percent. The Mavericks overcame the Rockets’ 60-32 advantage in points in the paint and 36-33 rebounding edge as well, forcing Houston into 18 turnovers and converting the giveaways into 21 points at the other end of the floor.

“It was a must-win for us,” Ellis concluded. “We had to get back on track and feeling good again after two devastating losses when we felt like we weren’t playing our basketball within our system. Tonight, we came in with a great game plan and stuck with it. In the second half we came in with a lot of energy, attacked the basket and made shots.”

Note: The Mavs return to American Airlines Center Thursday when they play host to the Southwest Division rival San Antonio Spurs. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

Dallas Mavericks
PLAYER MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Shawn Marion, F252-40-10-01453210174
Dirk Nowitzki, F3511-181-38-9066312101731
Samuel Dalembert, C283-60-02-243703003-28
Monta Ellis, G354-162-38-1005552041318
Jose Calderon, G326-123-70-001150015115
Vince Carter286-82-32-213441035-416
Jae Crowder224-73-50-000012110311
Brandan Wright193-30-00-01231200496
Gal Mekel111-50-00-02021001312
DeJuan Blair00-00-00-00000000000
Wayne Ellington00-00-00-00000000000
Devin Harris00-00-00-00000000000
Bernard James00-00-00-00000000000
Shane Larkin00-00-00-00000000000
Ricky Ledo00-00-00-00000000000
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF   PTS
40-7911-2220-2392433231341122 111
50.6%50.0%87.0%
Houston Rockets
PLAYER MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
Chandler Parsons, F438-151-44-405521042-221
Terrence Jones, F305-80-10-013410002-1210
Dwight Howard, C4010-160-09-135101541042329
Francisco Garcia, G351-61-50-01346101303
Jeremy Lin, G366-101-27-1002221052-420
Omri Casspi181-20-01-203320013-113
Aaron Brooks277-134-70-012350124-718
Ronnie Brewer70-00-00-000011000-20
Omer Asik00-00-00-00000000000
Patrick Beverley00-00-00-00000000000
Isaiah Canaan00-00-00-00000000000
Robert Covington00-00-00-00000000000
James Harden00-00-00-00000000000
Donatas Motiejunas00-00-00-00000000000
Greg Smith00-00-00-00000000000
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF   PTS
38-707-1921-298283623511718 104
54.3%36.8%72.4%

HOUSTON — On the verge of yet another career milestone, 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki enters Monday night’s matchup against the Houston Rockets less concerned with moving up the NBA’s all-time scoring list and more so focused on getting his team back in the win column.

Needing just 14 points to pass Alex English for 13th on the league’s scoring list, Nowitzki figures to continue his assault on the record books. However, after seeing the Mavericks (15-12) drop back-to-back games to Toronto and Phoenix, Nowitzki admits that he would gladly trade in the accolade for a victory.

“The main thing for me is we’ve got to win this game,” Nowitzki said following his team’s Monday morning shootaround. “You know, we’re sitting on a tough two-game losing streak. Against Toronto was ugly, against Phoenix we couldn’t get any stops, so it’s a big game for us, especially since we’re going to be off for two days. We don’t want to sit at home on Christmas on a three-game losing streak, so if I pass Alex tonight it will be great. It’s the greatest accomplishment and another fun thing in my career so far, but I’m really focused more on having a good outcome for the Mavericks.”

Looking to take a 2-1 season series lead over their in-state rival, the Mavericks hope Nowitzki can replicate his season-high 35 points in a come-from-behind 123-120 home win over Houston back on Nov. 20. But, even with both James Harden  (sprained right ankle) and Patrick Beverley (fractured right hand) sidelined, the Mavs know they’ll still have their hands full with All-Star center Dwight Howard.

Leading the Rockets (18-10) to a 114-97 win over Detroit Saturday with 35 points and 19 rebounds, Howard once again showed that he’s capable of carrying the load for the Houston team with Harden on the mend. And after Howard’s 33 points and 11 rebounds helped the Rockets surge ahead by as much as 18 points before the Mavs staged a furious rally in the last meeting between the two teams, the Dallas defense will have its full attention on containing the big man inside.

“They’ll go to Howard a lot in the post, which they did against Detroit, and a lot of other guys will be touching the ball,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Houston’s offensive attack.

He added: “You’ve got to just stay solid on [Howard] and you’ve got to make it hard for him to catch it in his sweet spots. You’ve got to contest as best as you can, and he’s shooting free throws a lot better, so just fouling him is not as good an option as it used to be. Look, he’s a great player and he had 30-something points against Detroit. And he blew by their centers on five or six occasions, so the other thing you’ve got to do is keep him in front of you, because he’s very quick.”

Note: The Mavericks head to Houston for a third of four regular-season meetings against the Southwest Division rival Rockets. The two teams are tied in the season series 1-1 with both winning on their home floor. The game will air locally Monday night on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center Thursday when they play host to the Southwest Division rival San Antonio Spurs. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

HOUSTON — After suffering back-to-back disappointing losses, things don’t get any easier for the Dallas Mavericks when they take on the in-state rival Houston Rockets Monday night.

Still stunned after watching a 19-point lead evaporate before eventually falling to a 109-108 overtime loss Friday to the Toronto Raptors, the Mavericks (15-12) would fail to get back on track one night later in Phoenix, suffering a 123-108 defeat to the high-octane Suns. Monday night, the Mavs will try to remain dominant against Southwest Division foes, however, looking to improve to 5-1 in the division as they take on All-Star big man Dwight Howard and the depleted Rockets (18-10) at the Toyota Center.

And after their worst defensive performance of the season, the Mavs admit that something much change in a hurry in order to avoid dropping a third straight game.

“I think our biggest challenge right now is to stay disciplined in some defensive situations,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve had too many gambles, too many bad fouls in late shot clock and too many things that lead to chain reactions that we’ve got to eliminate.”

With the squads set to square off for a third time this season, the Mavericks will try to break a trend after the home team captured the first two meetings. Avenging a 113-105 road loss on Nov. 1, the Mavs got even 19 days later as they rallied on their home floor to seize a 123-120 victory, overcoming an 18-point deficit and outscoring the Rockets 36-19 in the fourth quarter.

The Dallas team will now try to get a hold of Howard inside, as the big man comes off a monster 35-point, 19-rebound effort Saturday to lead Houston to a 114-97 victory over Detroit with James Harden (sprained right ankle), Jeremy Lin (sprained hand) and Patrick Beverley (fractured right hand) all sidelined in the backcourt.

After scoring just 13 points and pulling down 16 rebounds in the first meeting between the two teams, Howard feasted on the Dallas defense on Nov. 20 with 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting to go along with 11 boards. However, led by their two go-to scorers, the Mavs staged a comeback for the ages as new addition Monta Ellis posted a season-high 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting and 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added a season-high 35 points on 13 of 20 from the field. The Mavs may now need a duplicate performance Monday night as they lean on their top two scorers once again.

“If me and Dirk are going like that, you know, the other teams have a problem,” Ellis said with confidence after last month’s win over the Rockets. “And not just because we’re going like that, but because that means they’re going to pay so much attention to us that it opens it up for Vince [Carter], Jose [Calderon], Shawn [Marion] and guys like that. It was good that we had the game that we had, but it was a team effort. We had to grind, grind, grind and keep grinding to the last buzzer, and we came out with the win.”

The Mavs hope that is again the case Monday night as they try to improve a 4-9 record this season on the road.

Note: The Mavericks head to Houston for a third of four regular-season meetings against the Southwest Division rival Rockets. The two teams are tied in the season series 1-1 with both winning on their home floor. The game will air locally Monday night on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center Thursday when they play host to the Southwest Division rival San Antonio Spurs. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.