Preview: Streaking Mavs try to continue Rockets' downward slide
Preview: Rockets (21-18) at Mavericks (16-23)
Streaking Mavs try to continue Rockets' downward slide
Since staging a second-half comeback from 17 points down to rally for a 117-112 overtime win in Sacramento last Thursday, the Mavericks (16-23) have taken advantage of consecutive games against teams on the second night of a back-to-back. The outcome: a season best-tying three-game winning streak in which the Mavs are averaging 111.3 points per outing.
After blowout home wins against Memphis and Minnesota, the Mavs will welcome in a third team in that same situation as the Houston Rockets travel north to invade the American Airlines Center just 24 hours after suffering a 117-109 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. And with the Houston team also limping in on the second half of a back-to-back, the Mavs will attempt to extend their winning streak to four while claiming what be a ninth straight win over the Rockets to improve to 3-0 on their current four-game homestand.
“Taking care of home court and starting to win some home games is big for us and taking advantage of the schedule,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki explained. “Memphis came in here on a back-to-back. Minnesota came in here on a back-to-back. I think Houston is on a back-to-back Wednesday, and those are the games we’ve got to push the ball and really get up and take care of home court.”
“It’s good to have some tangible positive results in terms of wins,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added, “but some of it has been a little bit of fold’s gold, ’cause we’ve been catching teams on back-to-backs and things like that. I talked to the team about that some, and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t become too smitten with ourselves just ’cause we’ve put some wins together. We’ve got to really stay focused on having an edge and fighting for every inch on our home court. It’s critical.”
The Mavericks will now try to replicate a 116-109 road win in Houston back on Dec. 8 in the first of four regular-season meetings between the Southwest Division rivals, after leading scorer O.J. Mayo exploded for a season-high 40 points to outduel James Harden’s 39 points to lead the Rockets (21-18). But with Mayo coming into Wednesday night’s showdown after one of his best all-around performances of the season, the home team in all likelihood will not need an encore scoring performance against the in-state rival.
In addition to point guard Darren Collison’s 23 points and backup big man Elton Brand’s 20 points, Mayo made it three Mavericks to score 20 points or more while matching Brand’s output in Monday’s 113-98 win over the Timberwolves. Mayo also matched Collison’s assists total, dishing out a season-high nine dimes while snatching down seven rebounds in the victory. And after solving his early-season turnover issues while committing just one giveaway on the night, Mayo will look to continue to impact the game in a multitude of ways as the Mavs try to win four consecutive outings for the first time since March 13-19 while continuing the Rockets’ four-game losing skid.
“[The Rockets] are a good team,” he added. “Obviously they’re in that top eight (in the Western Conference playoff standings) somewhere and we’re trying to get there, so it’s another opponent that we have to go out there and play hard against. Right now, they’re the better team and we have to go out there and show that we can play with them and beat them on our home court.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action at the American Airlines Center for the third outing of a four-game homestand Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks lead the season series 1-0 after a 116-109 road win in Houston on Dec. 8. The game will air locally at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.