|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT23:00 , December 23, 2013
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas Attendance: 18,328
Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets
- These teams have split their two meetings so far this season with each club winning once on its own home court. Dallas has dropped each of its last two trips to Houston.
- The Mavericks have lost two straight and four of their last six games and will be looking to avoid losing three games in a row for the first time this season.
- The Rockets have alternated wins and losses in each of their last seven games overall (WLWLWLW). Houston has won three straight and nine of its last 10 home games.
- Dwight Howard scored a season-high 35 points against Detroit on Saturday for his third 30-point performance of the season. Howard reached the 30-point plateau a total of three times in all of 2012-13.
- Dirk Nowitzki has scored at least 20 points in four straight and eight of his last nine games. Nowitzki is averaging 28.5 points in his two meetings with Houston this season.
- Chandler Parsons is averaging 17.8 points in his career against Dallas -- the highest scoring average in his career against any opponent (minimum 5 games).
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By ELI KABERON
(AP) -- Without several of their top perimeter players, the Houston Rockets overcame depleted depth by finding their big man down low.
Dwight Howard may once again play an expanded role when the Rockets host the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
Howard was a force for the Rockets in their last game despite not having much help. With James Harden sidelined because of a sprained right ankle, Jeremy Lin out with a sprained hand and starting point guard Patrick Beverley limited to 14:35 because of fractured right hand, Howard came through. He scored 35 points, his high with the Rockets (18-10), and pulled down 19 rebounds to help Houston to a 114-97 victory over Detroit on Saturday.
"I just told my teammates to trust me and understand we play inside-out," said Howard, who also had five assists. "I try to make the best plays I can for this team and I just want to win. The most important part about winning is getting everyone involved and we did an excellent job (against the Pistons)."
With the statuses of Harden, Beverley and Lin uncertain against the Mavericks, Howard and the team's other role players may need to step up again. Chandler Parsons scored 20 points Saturday and Francisco Garcia added 16, both above their season averages, and Houston shot 55.7 percent.
"We just have to go out there and play. It does not matter how many guys we have," coach Kevin McHale said. "It does not matter who is playing or who is not playing. We just have to go there and play together and play with some toughness. Toughness and togetherness overcomes a lot of stuff."
Howard managed only 13 points in the first meeting of the season with Dallas, though he grabbed 16 rebounds in a 113-105 home victory Nov. 1. In the second matchup Nov. 20, he scored 33 points and shot 12 of 16 with 11 boards, but the Mavs rallied to win 123-120 by outscoring the visiting Rockets 36-19 in the fourth quarter.
Dallas (15-12) has dropped two in a row and four of six, and it's coming off its worst defensive performance of the season. The Mavs lost 123-108 to Phoenix on Saturday, allowing the Suns to go 15 of 30 from 3-point range while Dallas was 3 of 17.
The poor perimeter defense has been costly to the Mavs all season, as they rank in the bottom half of the league in 3-point field-goal defense at 36.6 percent.
"I think our biggest challenge right now is to stay disciplined in some defensive situations," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've had too many gambles, too many bad fouls in late shot clock and too many things that lead to chain reactions that we've got to eliminate."
Updated December 22, 2013