The Dallas Mavericks look to sweep the Houston Rockets for the second time in franchise history and move into first place in the Western Conference when the clubs meet at the American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks have won their first three meetings with the Rockets this season by an average of 16.7 points. The only other time Dallas swept its season series with Houston was in 2002-03.
The Mavericks have won 12 of their last 15 games over the Rockets, and six of the last seven meetings in Dallas.
Dallas is tied with San Antonio and Detroit for the most home wins in the league with 29. They have won 18 of their last 19 games at American Airlines Center, outscoring their opponents by an average of 12.4 points during that span.
Dallas lost 100-89 at New Jersey Sunday, snapping a three-game winning streak. The Mavericks missed 13 of their first 14 shots, and finished the first quarter with a season-low 10 points on 4-of-22 shooting.
“We were climbing uphill all night long,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “We thought if we could have had a normal quarter offensively and not be in the hole down by 20 points like we were in the first quarter, then we’d be OK.”
Despite starting just 1-for-8 from the field, Dirk Nowitzki tied his season-high with 37 points. Nowitzki is averaging 30.0 points on 58.5 percent shooting against the Rockets this season. The five-time All-Star’s career-high 53 points on Dec. 2, 2004 also came against Houston.
The Mavericks are one-half game behind the Spurs for the lead in both the Western Conference and the Southwest Division. San Antonio hosts Golden State Tuesday.
The Rockets are in 11th place in the Western Conference, trailing Sacramento by 4 1/2 games for the final playoff spot.
Houston has lost five straight after a 99-91 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
The Rockets were outscored 12-2 in a four-minute span of the fourth quarter, giving the Clippers the lead to stay.
“There’s a lot that goes into winning and a lot that goes into losing,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “Our second-half defense just led to another close loss.”
Yao Ming scored 25 points and had 17 rebounds for his 27th double-double of the season, and seventh in his last eight games.
Yao has scored 56 points in two games against the Mavericks this season, including a 36-point effort in Houston’s 95-81 loss to Dallas last Wednesday.
Luther Head scored 20 points on Monday, and is averaging 12.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting in four games since entering the starting lineup.
Tracy McGrady has missed five straight games with back problems, and could miss the rest of the season. The Rockets are 2-20 without him.