HOUSTON – They’ve had some major success at home this season where they’ve fashioned an impressive 8-2 record. Now, the Dallas Mavericks are hoping they can have some similar success on the road.
The Mavs are just 1-7 on the road this season, with their lone victory coming on Nov. 12 against the Chicago Bulls (103-98). But the Mavs (9-9) hope the tide will start to change on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they play the Houston Rockets (9-10) at the Toyota Center.
“At home we’re an unbelievable team,” forward Harrison Barnes said. “On the road we’ve been atrocious, so I think that’s the biggest challenge, especially going to Houston. “
Playing against an in-state rival has always carried some extra bragging rights. And this one is no different, especially since the Mavs haven’t been to the playoffs the last two season while the Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals last season.
Meanwhile, every NBA team has won at least two road games this season except Phoenix (1-9), Cleveland (1-8) and the Mavs. It’s a stat the Mavs clearly don’t want to be associated with.
“It’s a big game for us,” Barnes said. “We have to bring that same edge that we’ve started off games with here on the road.”
Their splendid defense that has been the Mavs’ calling card in recent weeks could play a vital role in them finally getting their mojo on the road. Then again, the Mavs still have to deal with the Rockets’ terrific backcourt duo of James Harden and Chris Paul.
“We just got to keep working,” coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s road woes. “Houston presents different challenges than any other teams that we’ve played.
“They’ve got two great players – two MVP candidates – with Harden and Paul, and they’re a team that’s very well built around those guys. It’s going to start with defense, that’s what I can tell you.”
Guard J. J. Barea acknowledged that part of being successful on the road is that a team has to bring something extra to the table.
“You’ve got to play harder (on the road) than at home,” Barea said. “You’ve got to stick together. On the road the home team’s always going to make a run.
“When things go bad you’ve got to stick together and just try to snap out of it. You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to take it as an opportunity to go to somebody’s house and beat them, and it’s always fun.”
But the fun doesn’t happen for the Mavs unless they’re able to carve out some wins away from American Airlines Center, which has been a little surprising to Barea.
“I think it’s good that we’re taking care of home,” Barea said. “I think that’s something we’ve got to do every year, and this year it’s been awesome.
“And I know the way we’re playing now, we’re going to do a little better on the road.”