National Basketball Association
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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)

Dallas Mavericks (15-12) at Houston Rockets (18-10), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets have enjoyed the cozy confines of the Toyota Center, going 11-3 there this season, and will entertain the Southwest rival Dallas Mavericks Monday night.

The Rockets have won three in a row at home and split a pair of road games against Indiana and Detroit. After losing to the Pacers on Friday, the Rockets responded the following night with a 114-97 decision over the Pistons.

Dwight Howard had a season-high 35 points and pulled down 19 rebounds, while Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia scored 20 and 16 points, respectively.

"He played really well. He has been on a really good roll the last three weeks. Guys are getting a little more comfortable playing off of him. He was fantastic tonight," Houston coach Kevin McHale said of Howard, who has eight double-doubles in his last nine games.

Houston shot 55.7 percent for the game and won for the fifth time in eight tries. It played without leading scorer James Harden because of a sprained left ankle and he is doubtful for Monday. He is posting 23.9 ppg.

Rockets guard Jeremy Lin missed his fourth consecutive contest due to back spasms and is listed as probable versus the Mavericks.

Dallas has lost two straight and four of six games since a three-game winning streak and dropped its third in a row on the road with Saturday's 123-108 setback against the Phoenix Suns.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, while Brandan Wright and Monta Ellis both netted 19. Vince Carter scored 14 points for the Mavericks, who made 48.4 percent of their shots. Phoenix made 51.2 percent from the floor and buried 15-of-30 3-pointers.

"We couldn't get any stops," Nowitzki said. "We tried some zone, tried some switching but we never got enough stops to really make it a game."

In milestone news, Nowitzki is 14 points shy of passing Alex English (25,613) for 13th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Nowitzki has scored 20 points in four straight games and 12 times in the last 16. He also needs 25 baskets for 9,000 in his career.

Carter needs one 3-pointer for 1,700 in his career and will become the 10th player in NBA history with that many.

The Mavericks are 4-9 on the road and have split two meetings with Houston this season. They recorded a 123-120 victory in the previous matchup on Nov. 20 and have won 11 of 13 and 15 of the last 20 games in this series.

12/23 10:28:20 ET