Mavericks-Rockets Preview

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.