Game No. 16.
Houston Rockets at Mavericks
(8 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines Center, Dallas)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM (Univision 1270 AM, Spanish)
About the Mavericks (8-7): They have played 11 of their first 15 games on the road (with one postponement) and have been better away from home (6-5) than at AAC (2-2) . . . They are coming off a 122-117 victory at San Antonio on Friday night in which Luka Dončić missed a triple-double by one rebound. It’s the third time this season he’s missed a triple-double by one rebound or one assist. On five other occasions, he has amassed the triple-double . . . This will be the second consecutive Southwest Division game for the Mavericks, having visited San Antonio Friday night. For those who don’t think divisions mean much in the NBA anymore, here’s what Rick Carlisle has to say about that: “There is meaning to having the best record in your division and having a good division record because it’s criteria for tiebreakers and stuff like that. They made sure as things have been re-aligned over the past several years that the divisional games still had an extra meaning. When you look at the standings in the West and how tight it is from top to bottom, tiebreakers are going to be extremely important come playoff time and when teams are getting ready for the play-in games and all that stuff.” . . . The Mavericks already have a win against the Rockets this season, coming in a 113-100 victory in Houston on Jan. 4. In that game, Dončić had a 33-point, 16-rebound, 11-assist triple-double and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 30 points off the bench. That was the last time they would see James Harden in a Houston uniform.
About the Rockets (5-9): They eked out a 103-102 victory Friday night at Detroit in a game in which both teams shot under 40 percent from the field and the Rockets had to survive a video review after the buzzer that determined a layup by Detroit’s Jerami Grant came a fraction of a second too late . . . The Rockets are a radically different team now with the departure of Russell Westbrook in the offseason and James Harden earlier this month. The trades left them with Victor Oladipo, John Wall and a bevy of future draft picks . . . They are fighting significant health issues. Wall (knee), center Christian Wood (ankle), Danuel House (safety protocols) and Dante Exum (calf) all missed the Detroit game, as did newcomer Kevin Porter, for whom the Rockets traded on Thursday . . . The loss of Wood is a major one. The slender center has become a budding star. In his past four games, he’s averaged better than 25 points and 13 rebounds and his 3-point shooting has been outstanding (11-for-21) during that spell. Friday was the first game he missed with the sprained ankle . . . In his place, veteran center DeMarcus Cousins did everything well except shoot the ball. He was 2-of-16 from the field at Detroit and is shooting 28 percent for the season. However, he also had 15 rebounds and seven assists against the Pistons.