Mavericks at Houston Rockets
(7 p.m. Wednesday, Toyota Center, Houston)
TV: Bally Sports Southwest
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM (Univision 1270 AM, Spanish)
About the Mavericks (28-21): Now comes the hard part. The Mavericks have won five in a row and are in the mix to creep up the Western Conference standings. As Rick Carlisle knows, that’s a precarious spot. Playing a team with one of the worst records in the league is a perfect recipe for letting one’s guard down. “I watched Houston’s game from (Monday) night,” Carlisle said. “Houston has lost a lot of games over the last two months, but they’re playing better and better. They’ve made some trades. They got (Kelly) Olynyk” . . . The Mavericks are coming off one of their best wins of the season, 111-103 over Utah, ending the Jazz’s nine-game winning streak. Their recent run of success (19-7 since Feb. 5) was not a quick-fix kind of thing. Said Jalen Brunson: “It’s a long season. We had a couple games earlier in the year where we had to check ourselves, dig down deep and think about what team you want to be and what are we going to do. It wasn’t just one moment. Gradually, it got better and click and we kept moving forward. We’re here now and we can’t stop here.” . . . This is one of the make-up games that was postponed during the first half of the seasons. The Mavericks already have a win in Houston, but the Rockets did put a 133-108 whipping on the Mavs that started their six-game losing streak in late January . . . In the win at Houston, Luka Dončić had 33 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.
About the Rockets (13-37): They are battling it out with Minnesota for the worst record in the league. The Rockets at the moment have a half-game lead on the Timberwolves . . . To say they have injury concerns would be an understatement. Eric Gordon, Dante Exum, Danuel House and David Nwaba all are out, although newcomer Avery Bradley is probable and John Wall is questionable . . . They do have a rising-star big man in Christian Wood, who is averaging 20.9 points and 9.6 rebounds, although he too has fought injury problems this season . . . Olynyk arrived from Miami along with Bradley in the trade that sent Victor Oladipo to the Heat. In six games since arriving, Olynyk has averaged 18.7 points and shot 44 percent from 3-point range . . . Remember when the Rockets used to be the most feared 3-point shooting team in the land. They now have a 33.5 percent average from 3-point range. That would be lowest in the NBA . . . That dovetails with their overall shooting, which is 28th in the league . . . The Rockets fell to pieces during their 21-game losing streak that ended on March 22 against Toronto. They won two out of four, but since have lost five in a row, including Monday’s 133-130 setback to Phoenix . . . In that game, the Rockets hit 54 percent of their shots and 52 percent of their 3-pointers, but a lack of defense on the other end was their undoing.