How it happened: The Mavericks got their measure of revenge.
A few days after their defensive debacle in Houston, the Mavs won a wild rematch with the Rockets.
It isn’t like Dallas shut down Houston in this game, but this was a drastic defensive improvement after allowing 136 points a few nights before. And the Mavs got the critical stops they needed down the stretch.
With less than a minute remaining and the Mavs protecting a two-point lead, Shawn Marion harassed James Harden into air-balling a 3-pointer. After the ball went out of bounds off a Maverick, Harden’s driving layup attempt came up short because of Brandan Wright’s challenge at the rim.
The Mavs were an efficient offensive machine, shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 42.3 percent from the 3-point line, with five Dallas players scoring in double figures.
Marion and Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 22 points apiece. Vince Carter added 16 points, highlighted by a flurry of 3-pointers in the late third and early fourth. O.J. Mayo had 13 points -- seven in the fourth quarter -- and a career-high 12 assists.
Harden scored 28 points, but he was only five for 17 from the floor. Houston’s Chandler Parsons followed up his career-high 32-point performance with 23 points.
What it means: The playoffs appear to be a pipe dream, but at least the Mavs showed some pride, rebounding after being routed by the Rockets on Sunday. Dallas (27-33) is still 4½ games out of eighth place, looking up in the standings at the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. The seventh-place Rockets (33-29) missed an opportunity to distance from the eight-place Utah Jazz, who lost Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Play of the game: Mayo made sure the Rockets didn’t lead for long in the fourth quarter. Mayo responded to Harden’s go-ahead 3 by drilling a 3 from the top of the arc on the next possession. That gave the Mavs the lead for good with 3:14 remaining.
Stat of the night: The Mavs have won 10 of the past 11 meetings with the Rockets. That run includes three of four this season, although the Rockets outscored the Mavs by a total of 17 points in those four games.