The Dallas Mavericks visited the Houston Rockets on Monday, Dec. 22 to renew their in-state rivalry, and the Mavs rode out of town with a 111-104 victory behind a stellar third quarter.
After a hot-shooting first half, the Rockets led 57-50. Then the Mavs cinched up their defense and started shooting out the lights. They won the third quarter 36-21 and shot 8-of-12 from downtown. The Rockets never found the defense to recover from that 12-minute outburst.
Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 31 points and passed Alex English for 13th on the all-time scoring list. Monta Ellis shot 4-of-16 to get 18 points, but double-digit scoring from Jose Calderon, Vince Carter and Jae Crowder served as compensation.
Dwight Howard had a fine game against the lead feet of Samuel Dalembert and put up 29 points and 15 rebounds.
The Rockets played without James Harden (ankle sprain) and Patrick Beverley (broken hand), leaving their backcourt dangerously thin. Jeremy Lin (back) returned to the starting lineup and scored 20 points, and Aaron Brooks went for 18 points and five dimes off the bench. Nevertheless, Houston's offense sorely missed the electric playmaking of James Harden.
With the win, the Mavs snapped a two-game skid and improved to 16-12. The Rockets fall to 18-11 and have lost 14 of their last 18 meetings with Dallas.