The Dallas Mavericks made a huge splash this offseason when they lured Chandler Parsons away from the Houston Rockets.
While the Rockets have managed just fine without him, Dwight Howard’s absence has become a concern.
Parsons faces his former team for the first time looking to lift the Mavericks to a seventh straight victory Saturday night in Houston.
Parsons spent the first three seasons of his career with the Rockets before agreeing to a three-year, $46 million deal with Dallas in July. Houston allowed Parsons to become a restricted free agent despite having him under contract for one more season and could have kept him but chose not to match Dallas’ offer.
He’s averaging 14.5 points after scoring 21 in Friday’s 140-106 rout of the Lakers, the Mavericks’ sixth consecutive win. Dirk Nowitzki had 23 points in 21 minutes, while Monta Ellis scored 20 to go with 10 of the team’s season-high 37 assists.
Eight players scored in doubles figures as Dallas shot 62.2 percent.
The Mavericks (10-3), leading the league with 111.3 points per game, have averaged 118.7 during their winning streak. They haven’t posted seven consecutive victories since 2010-11, when they went on to win the NBA championship.
Dallas now plays for a second straight night, but all of its starters were rested in the fourth quarter of Friday’s blowout.
"We’ve just got to get to the plane quick, get there, get some rest and get ready," coach Rick Carlisle said. "(The Rockets are) sitting there with two days’ rest. There’s an advantage for them, but I like how our team played tonight."
Houston (9-3) couldn’t keep up with Los Angeles in Wednesday’s 98-92 defeat with Howard (knee) on the sidelines. The Rockets were outscored 38-20 in the paint and outrebounded 14-6 on the offensive glass, dropping to 0-2 when their All-Star center doesn’t play.
Howard, who isn’t expected to suit up Saturday, is averaging 27.7 points on 66.7 percent shooting in his last three games against the Mavericks.
"Everything’s not going to be perfect, everything’s not going to go according to plan every single night, we just have to find a way to win," point guard Patrick Beverley said. "Of course we want our big horse riding with us, but we can’t control injuries, and it’s time for someone else to step up."
Rookie Tarik Black should draw a second consecutive start if Howard can’t go. He finished with five points on 2-of-6 shooting and five boards Wednesday.
Aside from Howard, the Rockets are also without Terrence Jones due to a leg injury. The duo is averaging a combined 32.8 points and 18.8 rebounds.
"Not having he and Terrence really hurts us, no question," coach Kevin McHale said.
James Harden had 24 points against the Lakers but committed six of the team’s 17 turnovers. Harden is averaging a league-high 4.2 turnovers and shooting what would be a career-worst 38.6 percent.
"We’ll watch some film, bounce back and be ready for Saturday night," he said.
Dallas and Houston both averaged 113.5 points in splitting four games last season. Nowitzki averaged 34.7 points on 62.7 percent shooting in the last three meetings.
"I treat Dallas like I treat the Lakers, treat the Lakers like I treat Memphis, treat Memphis like I treat OKC. They’re our next opponent, and that’s all that matters right now," Beverley said.
"They put a good team together, a really good team. Everyone knows their roles really well, good rollers, good poppers. Of course Dirk is Dirk, a lot of good guards. Of course Chandler can play the three and the four. They’re really talented."