Houston (31-22) at Dallas (34-20)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Sat Feb 21, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

One of the best defensive teams in the NBA will meet one of the highest-scoring clubs in the league when the Houston Rockets visit the Dallas Mavericks.

Houston is second in scoring defense, allowing 84.2 points per game. Dallas, meanwhile, is second in the NBA in scoring, averaging 103.4 points.

The Rockets have been even stingier on the defensive end of late, giving up 82.7 points in winning five of their last six. They’ve played well offensively also, scoring more than 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season.

Houston beat the Los Angeles Lakers 102-97 in its last game before the All-Star break, and then returned to action with a 107-81 victory over Washington on Tuesday.

Mark Jackson and Steve Francis combined for 16 of the Rockets’ season-high 34 assists against Washington, as Houston shot 54.3 percent from the field while hitting a season-high 44 field goals.

“We know that when we move the ball, we’re a good team,” said Rockets reserve forward Maurice Taylor, who had 10 points and three assists. “We’ve been playing that way, especially at the beginning of the season, but we haven’t been consistent with it. If anything, a goal for us for the second half of the season is to be consistent.”

Dallas lost 109-92 at Memphis on Tuesday, but rebounded to beat Cleveland on the road 114-98 on Wednesday.

Michael Finley scored 23 points, Steve Nash had 20 and 10 assists and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points as the Mavs made 47.4 percent of their field goals to improve to 26-6 when they shoot better than 44 percent from the field.

Dallas shot just 40.6 percent in the loss to Memphis.

“We’re not going to shoot poorly every night,” Nash said. “When we find the open guy, I’ll take our chances. The shots were falling for us again. They usually do.”

Dallas, which had seven players score in double figures Wednesday, is 14-4 since Jan. 12.

The Mavs have won five straight over the Rockets, including a 97-86 victory in Dallas on Nov. 13.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 19): Rockets - 4th place (tied), 7 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Mavericks - 3rd place, 5 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Rockets - F Kelvin Cato, F Jim Jackson, C Yao Ming, G Cuttino Mobley, G Francis. Mavericks - F Scott Williams, F Antoine Walker, C Nowitzki, G Finley, G Nash.

TEAM LEADERS: Rockets - Francis, 16.8 ppg and 5.9 apg; Yao, 9.0 rpg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 21.5 ppg; Walker, 9.0 rpg; Nash, 8.3 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 13; Mavericks, 97-86. At Dallas, Nowitzki played through a touch of the flu and scored 23 points, leading five Dallas players in double figures as the Mavs won their third straight.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockets - 13-14 on the road; Mavericks - 23-4 at home.

INJURIES: Rockets - G Mike Wilks (foot). Mavericks - G Travis Best (Achilles’); G-F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); G Jon Stefansson (ankle).

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