Houston (14-11) at Dallas (19-7)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Fri Dec 18, 2009
  • TV: FSH, KTXA
Preview | Box Score | Recap

As expected, Dirk Nowitzki(notes) has carried the Dallas Mavericks during their current win streak, but the Houston Rockets have had more trouble stopping top reserve Jason Terry(notes) in recent meetings.

Terry will try to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season by helping the Mavericks to a season-high sixth straight victory and their fourth in a row over the Rockets on Friday night at home.

Nowitzki, who is scoring a career-best 26.9 points per game this season, is the only Mavericks player averaging more than 14.0 points during the team’s run (27.8 ppg), and he topped 30 for the fourth time in six games with 35 in a 100-86 victory Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.

The All-Star forward also shot a season-best 72.2 percent (13 of 18), grabbed 11 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season and earned praise for his defense from teammate Jason Kidd(notes).

“I know you guys talk about Dirk’s scoring, but I think it’s his defense that has got him going,” Kidd said. “People are always going to talk about his offense, but I think right now his defense I think has been the best that I’ve ever seen.”

However, not everyone for the Southwest Division-leading Mavericks (19-7) was at his best Wednesday. Terry endured a 2-for-12 shooting night and finished with seven points for the second time this season.

Judging by his recent games against the Rockets, the league’s reigning sixth man of the year could bounce back Friday. In Dallas’ two wins over Houston this season, Terry has averaged 25.5 points while going a combined 17 for 19 from the field. Nowitzki has totaled 48 points in those games, which Dallas has won by an average of 24.5 points.

Terry has also averaged 26.3 points on 70.2 percent shooting during the Mavericks’ past four wins against the Rockets. He missed a 93-86 loss in Houston on Feb. 20 with a fractured finger.

In Friday’s matchup, he’ll face a Rockets team that’s in the middle of arguably one of the league’s most difficult stretches this season.

Houston (14-11) plays 16 games from Dec. 9-Jan. 6 with 10 on the road and 10 on back-to-back nights. After this game, the Rockets return home to face the Thunder on Saturday night.

“It’s utterly ridiculous,” coach Rick Adelman said Monday. “But that’s the schedule we have, it’s just the way it is and we’re just going to have to respond to it.”

So far, Houston has fared well with a 3-2 mark since beginning that grueling stretch, but fatigue might be catching up. The Rockets allowed Denver to pull away late Wednesday night and fell for first time this season in the second of back-to-back games.

After tying the game at 71 in the third quarter, Houston allowed a 14-7 run to end the period and fell behind by 16 in the final quarter of the 111-101 loss.

“When we made a run, they made a run right back at us,” swingman Trevor Ariza(notes) said. “Anytime they needed a stop or they needed to get it going, they did and we didn’t.”

The Rockets are trying to bring star Tracy McGrady(notes) along slowly in his return from microfracture knee surgery. In his first two games this season, McGrady has scored three points in 16 minutes.

Whether or not McGrady has been on the court hasn’t made much difference in recent games against the Mavericks as the Rockets have lost most of them. Dallas is 27-9 against Houston since March 3, 2001, including 14-4 at home. That doesn’t include the teams’ first-round playoff matchup in 2005, won by the Mavericks in seven games.

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Friday, Dec 18