Mavericks (29-18) at Rockets (29-18)
Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
Place: Toyota Center, Houston
TV: FSSW; ESPN
Radio: ESPN, 103.3 FM, Univision, 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavs: The Mavericks already have a win in Houston this season, having taken a 137-123 win on Nov. 24 . . . They will be without Luka Doncic and his 28.8 points per game. Doncic suffered a right ankle sprain on Thursday at practice and will miss at least this game and perhaps the second half of the back-to-back Saturday against Atlanta, pending the outcome of an MRI on Saturday. Doncic had 41 points and 10 assists in the first visit to Houston. They went 2-2 without Doncic in December, with wins at Milwaukee, Philly . . . Expect Jalen Brunson, Courtney Lee, Delon Wright and J.J. Barea to all get consideration for picking up the slack left by Doncic’s absence . . . Tim Hardaway Jr. is suffering from lower back tightness and his status is questionable for the game. In the first meeting, he had 31 points – his first 30-point game for the Mavericks . . . Rick Carlisle, in his 12th season as coach of the Mavericks, has led the franchise to a 499-434 record (.535). His next win will be his 500th with Dallas and it will be the 13th time in NBA history a coach has won 500 games with a single franchise . . . The Mavericks saw their streak of at least 10 3-pointers made in every game end at 34 on Tuesday, when they were 7-of-33 against Phoenix. Houston had a streak of 97 consecutive games with 10-plus triples end earlier this month . . . They have scored 45 points or more in a quarter five times this season. The previous record was two times, done in three different seasons.
About the Rockets: They have lost six of their last nine. Included in that stretch was a four-game losing streak. Coach Mike D’Antoni said during the skid that players were a little more concerned with what’s on the back of the jersey than they were with what’s on the front. “Every ship gets rocked sometimes,” he said. “We’re getting rocked right now. Right now, we’re shaky, but we have veterans that will right the ship.” . . . The Rockets remain reliant on the 3-point shot, with nearly half (43.3) of their total field-goal attempts (90.9) coming from beyond the arc. Those numbers are easily tops in the NBA, but their percentage (.347) is only 21st in the league . . . The Rockets also take, and make, more free throws than any team in the league. That’s largely because James Harden averages 12.2 trips to the line per game . . . Harden is a solid MVP candidate, averaging an NBA-best 35.7 points per game, along with 7.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds . . . Russell Westbrook (26.3 points) teams with Harden to be the highest-scoring tandem in the league. But they are part of a sometimes-porous defense that relies on center Clint Capela and forward P.J. Tucker to do the heavy lifting . . . Guard Eric Gordon had a 50-point night against Utah on Monday in a Rockets’ win. Harden, Westbrook and Capela all missed that game.