How it happened: The Mavericks managed to pull out a win despite a poor shooting night.
Coach Rick Carlisle probably considers that a sign of significant progress. The Mavs, who were 33-of-86 (38.4 percent) from the floor, had been 0-9 when they failed to shoot at least 40 percent this season.
Dallas did it by coming up with three consecutive critical defensive stops in the final 70 seconds, putting the brakes on a Rockets rally. Houston, which was on the wrong end of a 19-0 run in the first quarter, trailed by as many as 15 points but fought back to tie it up with 1:52 remaining.
This game wasn’t nearly as pretty as the first Dallas-Houston meeting of the season. That was a scoring duel between Dallas’ O.J. Mayo (40 points) and Houston’s James Harden (39) that the Mavs won on the road.
Neither shooting guard could find his touch Wednesday night, when Mayo scored 18 points on 3-of-14 shooting and Harden had 20 points on 5-of-23 shooting.
Former Mavs summer leaguer Jeremy Lin gave the Rockets a chance to win, scoring 14 of his 19 in the fourth quarter. However, he missed a free throw when Houston could have taken the lead with 1:52 remaining, and the Rockets couldn’t pull even again.
What it means: The Mavs extended their winning streak to a season-high four games, improving their record to 17-23, which puts Dallas four games behind the eighth-place Rockets in the Western Conference standings. Houston (21-19) lost is fifth straight game. The Mavs have won the last nine meetings with the Rockets, their longest active winning streak over any team.
Play of the game: Elton Brand, the Mavs’ best defensive big man, came up with a huge block with a little over a minute remaining. With the score tied, Harden drove down the left side of the lane for a layup, but Brand rejected the shot off the glass. That led to a fast break for Mayo, who hit the go-ahead free throws with 1:02 remaining after Lin was called for a blocking foul in transition.
Stat of the night: Mayo has had at least 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds in a game twice in his career. Those outings have come in the Mavs’ last two games.