Setting the Table: Houston Rockets (Game 40)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on January 16, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (16-23) are looking for their first four-game winning streak of the year as they host the Houston Rockets (21-18). With the victory over the Timberwolves on Jan. 14, the Mavericks recorded their third consecutive win, which ties their season-best win-streak. They also won 3 straight: Nov. 3 vs. Charlotte through Nov. 7 vs. Toronto and Dec. 6 at Phoenix through Dec. 10 vs. Sacramento. During the three-game winning streak, Dallas is averaging 111.3 points per game on 49.8 percent shooting. The Mavericks will have their hands full as the Rockets stand first in the NBA in points per game at 105.5 points per game.

The Mavericks will look to take advantage of another team coming into town on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rockets come into town after suffering a 117-109 loss to the LA Clippers. Houston is currently on a four-game losing streak. If the Mavericks are serious about making this huge push to make it into the playoffs, this will be another game they have to get as the Rockets are a team they’ll have to leapfrog in order to get in to the playoffs.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Rockets.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks and the Rockets met once in the 2012 preseason, at Dallas on Oct. 15, and Dallas recorded a 123-104 win. The Mavericks have won eight straight and 22 of the last 28 regular-season meetings with the Rockets. It’s the Mavericks’ longest active winning streak against any team. The Rockets’ last victory over the Mavericks in the regular season came at Houston on Dec. 31,2009, defeated Dallas 97-94. However, six of the last seven meetings between the two teams have been decided by seven points or less. The Mavericks have gone 16-4 in their last 20 games against the Rockets at home, and Dallas has taken the most recent four matchups at American Airlines Center. The Rockets’ last road win over the Mavericks was a 116-108 overtime decision on Dec. 18, 2009.

In the Mavericks’ in the win on Dec. 8, Chris Kaman went 9-of-13 from the floor and totaled 20 points and seven rebounds. Darren Collison and Vince Carter pitched in 12 points apiece off the Dallas bench. Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) was unavailable for the game against the Rockets. Nowitzki scored a game-high 31 points in the victory over Houston on Mar. 24, 2012. He moved past Charles Barkley (23,757) and into 19th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 31st point of the game (a free throw at the 18.5-second mark of overtime).

Nowitzki averaged 29.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 37.7 minutes in three starts against the Rockets in 2011-12. Brandan Wright recorded a career-high seven blocked shots at Houston on Mar. 24, 2012. He became the eighth player in Mavericks history to record seven blocks in a game and the first since Erick Dampier had seven vs. Chicago on Feb. 25, 2008.

It’s a Small World:

Rockets guard Jeremy Lin began his NBA career with the Mavericks’ Las Vegas summer league team in 2010. Rockets head coach Kevin McHale and Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle were teammates on the Boston Celtics from 1984-86 and won an NBA championship together in 1986. Mike James had two stints with Houston. He played in 27 games for Houston in 2004-05 and 33 games for the Rockets in 2007-08.

Rockets player development coach Greg Buckner played for the Mavericks from 1999-2002 and again in 2006-07. Mavericks swingman Vince Carter (Daytona Beach), Mavericks guard
Dominique Jones (Lake Wales), Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (Casselberry) and Rockets guard Toney Douglas (Tampa) were all born in Florida. Douglas (Jonesboro HS in Jonesboro, Ga.) attended high school in Georgia, the same state that Mavericks forward Jae Crowder (Villa Rica HS in Villa Rica, Ga.) and Mavericks center Bernard James (Windsor Forest HS in Savannah, Ga.) both attended high school in.

Mavericks athletic trainer Casey Smith and Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones worked together on the athletic training staff for the U.S. Sr. National Basketball program from 2006-2008 (2006 World Championships, 2007 Olympic Qualifying, 2008 Summer Olympics).

Three Keys:

1. Juice needs to hit the repeat button. O.J. Mayo recorded a career-high-tying 40 points (15-26 FGs, 6-9 3FGs, 4-4 FTs) to go along with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in 42
minutes for the Mavericks in the win against Houston on Dec. 8. Seeing the Rockets again could help really build some momentum for Mayo. Juice was efficiency personified as he tallied 20 points (8-11 FGs, 3-4 3FGs, 1-1 FTs) to go along with seven rebounds, a season-high nine assists and two steals in 38 minutes vs. Minnesota in the team’s last game. It was his 17th 20-point outing of the season. He was a season-high plus-30 in the game. Houston will want to avoid a second straight explosion by Mayo. It won’t be easy for them as they have to deal with Dirk this time around.

2. Continue to protect the ball. Houston will actually provide another stiff test for Dallas in terms of avoiding turnovers. The Rockets stand third in the NBA in steals per game at 8.79 thefts per game. After tying a season-low with nine turnovers against the Grizzlies on Jan. 12, the Mavericks recorded only 10 giveaways against the Timberwolves on Jan. 14. It marked
the first time this season that Dallas recorded 10-or-fewer turnovers in consecutive games. The Mavericks have recorded 13-or-fewer turnovers in nine of their last 11 games, including each of their last six. Dallas is averaging 10.8 turnovers per game over its last six games.

3. Keep the strength in numbers mentality. Dallas had six players score in double figures in consecutive games vs. Memphis and vs. Minnesota. It was the second time this season that Dallas had six-plus players in double figures in back-to-back games, 6 in double figures vs. Sacramento Dec. 10 and 7 in double figures at Boston Dec. 12. Dallas is 7-3 this season when it has at least six players score in double digits.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.