Rockets-Mavericks Preview

The Associated Press

It should be interesting to see what kind of reaction Dwight Howard receives when he takes the court against another team that lost in the summer recruiting battle for his services.

Howard and the Rockets seek their fourth straight win Wednesday night when they try to snap a six-game road losing streak in Dallas, where the Mavericks look to remain unbeaten.

The Rockets (8-4) and Mavericks (7-4) were two of five teams that made pitches to the NBA's biggest prize in free agency last summer before Howard decided to leave the Los Angeles Lakers for Houston.

In his first appearance back at Staples Center after his one up-and-down season with the Lakers, Howard was roundly booed in a 137-118 loss to the Clippers on Nov. 4.

The seven-time All-Star center had 13 points and 16 rebounds in a 113-105 victory over the visiting Mavericks on Nov. 1. At that time, Dallas owner Mark Cuban made headlines when he addressed Howard's decision to spurn his club.

''Obviously, he made a mistake in judgment,'' Cuban said before the game. ''Do I blame him? No, that's what young kids do. They make mistakes in judgment.''

Howard insists that he doesn't have any hard feelings toward Cuban, and couldn't be happier about his pick to join Houston instead of the Mavericks. Through 11 games, he's averaging 17.2 points, a league-high 13.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

''What would you want him to say? He's taking up for his team,'' Howard responded. ''I would do the same thing if somebody didn't want to play with me. I would think they made a bad decision ... if I would have went to his team he would have been happy.''

Now the Dallas fans will have their say with Howard looking to lead the Rockets to their first win in Dallas since a 116-108 overtime victory on Dec. 18, 2009.

The Mavericks, however, seek their first 6-0 start at home since 2007-08.

Houston has gotten back into a groove offensively during a three-game winning streak, averaging 113.3 points on 51.1 percent shooting. The Rockets put up 40 first-quarter points and shot 72.2 percent in the first half en route to a 109-85 victory over visiting Boston on Tuesday.

''I think the guys have done a really good job of being attentive and making corrections,'' coach Kevin McHale said. ''We've still got a long way to go, but we're getting better all the time.''

Terrence Jones had a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, while James Harden added 15 and Howard had 10 and 11 rebounds. Harden, the team's leading scorer with 24.3 points per game, had a game-high 34 in the first meeting earlier this month.

Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and Monta Ellis added 20 for the Mavericks, who shot a season-low 38.0 percent from the field. The Rockets, though, have given up 112.0 points on 44.2 percent shooting in five road games.

Ellis finished with 24 points and 10 assists in a 97-94 win over Philadelphia on Monday. He's scored at least 18 in all 11 games, the longest streak to start a career in Dallas.

"We've got so many guys that can score, and my main thing is attack and make plays for not only myself but for others," Ellis told the team's official website.

The Mavericks hope to continue playing well defensively, allowing 96.4 points per game while winning four of five. They had given up 108.0 over the first six contests.

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