HOUSTON - What Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin started with brilliant shooting in the first half, James Harden continued during a runaway third quarter as the Houston Rockets blitzed the Dallas Mavericks 136-103 to snap a nine-game series losing skid on Sunday night at Toyota Center.
Parsons connected on his first 11 shots en route to a career-high 32 points as the Rockets (33-28) opened a six-game lead on the Mavericks (26-33). Dallas, which began its series win streak over Houston on Nov. 29, 2010, claimed the first two meetings this season and will host the Rockets, currently in eighth place in the Western Conference, on Wednesday night.
Lin and Parsons combined for 35 first-half points on 13-for-17 shooting, sparking a 23-9 run that turned a nine-point deficit into a 64-59 lead on two Lin free throws with 29.9 seconds remaining before halftime. Lin and Parsons scored 17 of the final 19 points for the Rockets prior to the intermission.
Harden rode that momentum in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in the period on 3-for-3 3-point shooting while hitting 5 of 6 free throws. The Rockets opened the second half by scoring the first 15 points, and their 22-4 run extended their lead to 86-65 when Lin banked in an 11-footer with 6:07 left in the third. Houston led 108-78 entering the fourth quarter.
Lin and Harden finished with 21 points apiece to support Parsons while combining for 16 assists. Parsons finished 12-for-13 from the floor to eclipse the 31 points he scored against the Knicks Nov. 23, 2012.
O.J. Mayo paced the Mavericks with 18 points while Shawn Marion added 14 points and eight rebounds. Veteran guard Mike James scored all 11 of his points off the bench by the 8:56 mark of the second quarter, with his third and final 3-pointer extending the Mavericks' lead to 45-36.
NOTES: With 23 games remaining in the regular season and Houston holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Mavericks' faint postseason hopes are on life support. Dallas trails Houston by five games in the loss column and must take advantage of home game against the Rockets on Wednesday. "There's a lot of attention on this because it's two back-to-back games and so it's kind of like a playoff series," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Hey, we're scratching and clawing. That's where we're at." ... The Rockets haven't wowed anyone with their defense this season, entering Sunday night ranked 29th in points per game allowed (103.7) and 23rd in defensive rating (107.7 points per 100 possessions). Their defense over the five games since the All-Star break has been worse, with opponents averaging 108 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting. "Since the break we have not played good defense," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "I guess part of that is integrating new guys ... but we've got to make someone uncomfortable."