Mavericks-Rockets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 08, 2012
The Houston Rockets still can't get the job done on the road. It's been a far different story at home. Looking to rebound from another lopsided road defeat, Houston goes for a seventh consecutive home win Saturday night when the Dallas Mavericks try to end their trip with an eighth straight victory in this Southwest Division matchup. Trying to build off back-to-back home wins over Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets (9-9) were routed 114-92 at San Antonio on Friday. The only real encouraging sign for Houston was that James Harden broke out of a three-game shooting slump with 29 points on 10 of 16 from the field. The rest of the team made a combined 27 for 79 shots (34.2 percent). "The one thing that we've got to get better at and continue to work at is not allowing missed shots to affect other parts of your game," interim coach Kelvin Sampson told the Rockets' official website. "I thought our missed shots affected our effort on defense." With back-to-back 22-point road losses, the Rockets have to feel good about starting a four-game homestand. Houston's last 7-0 run at the Toyota Center spanned March 14-April 3, 2011. The Mavericks (9-10) will try to prevent that from happening on the final stop of their three-game trip. Dallas bounced back nicely in Thursday's 97-94 victory over Phoenix after committing a season high-tying 22 turnovers in a 112-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers a night earlier. "We played one of our strongest-willed games,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "Difficult situation, losing time coming off the back-to-back and a rough one last night. Everybody played with a lot of heart, a lot of guts. It was really a war of attrition out there with the injuries and all the stuff going on." Center Chris Kaman (sprained left ankle) and Shawn Marion (strained right groin) both could play Saturday after leaving Thursday's game with injuries. Even if Kaman can go, little-used big man Brandan Wright likely earned himself more minutes after scoring a season-best 16 points on Thursday. "I felt a little rusty in the beginning, but as I played more and more I started feeling real good," he told the Mavs' official website. "I started feeling like my old self again and then guys go down and coach rolled with me all the way till the end, so I had to step up." Wright did that in the Mavs' only game at Houston last season, finishing with 14 points, a career-high seven blocks and six rebounds in a 101-99 overtime victory on March 24. It was Dallas' third straight road win in this series. The Mavs' margin of victory during its winning streak over Houston is just 6.3 points. After facing the Spurs on Friday for the first time since last season's Western Conference finals, Harden will now get reacquainted with Dallas. Last season while with Oklahoma City, Harden averaged 18.3 points - including 29 in the series clincher - as the defending champion Mavs were swept out of the playoffs. Mavericks leading scorer O.J. Mayo, who increased his career-best average to 19.8 with 23 points on Thursday, has never won at Houston. Mayo averaged 10.0 points in seven losses there while with Memphis.
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