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Mavs Look For Third Straight Win, Host Rockets

(Sports Network) - A battle in the Lone Star State is on tap tonight between the Southwest Division-rival Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets from American Airlines Center in Big D.

The Mavericks have the upper hand in this matchup with four wins in the last six meetings, including a 101-91 victory over Houston on Nov. 29 in Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 20 points in that one, as the Mavs improved to 13-4 in the previous 17 matchups at home in this series.

Dallas has won two straight overall and three of four games since losing six straight, and is coming off Tuesday's 112-105 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers in the opener of a four-game homestand. Jason Terry scored a game- high 28 points off the bench, Jose Barea contributed 25 points in a reserve role and Nowitzki added 20 for Dallas, which is 3-3 since Nowitzki returned after missing nine games with a sprained right knee.

"We started the game a little slow and all the bench guys were talking that we had to come out with a lot of energy tonight and change the tempo," Barea said after the Mavs recorded a season-high in points. "We did that and it worked out for us,"

Dallas' bench outscored LA's reserves, 63-28, and is posting 44.0 points per game over the last four games (35.8 points per game on the season). The Mavs shot 50 percent for the game and scored 34 points off 22 Los Angeles turnovers. Tyson Chandler had a season-high 21 points in the win and is averaging 20.0 points over his last two games. Dallas is 16-8 as the host and will also welcome Atlanta and Washington to town.

Houston will begin a grueling four-game road trip Thursday against the Mavericks, Spurs, Lakers and Jazz, and is 9-15 outside of Space City this season.

The Rockets have won two in a row and five of their last seven games, posting a 96-83 victory the last time out versus the Clippers at the Toyota Center. Kyle Lowry had 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola both scored 16 points in a winning cause. Houston outscored the Clippers, 26-10, in the final period.

"It's just a good win to get," said Rockets coach Rick Adelman. "The fourth quarter was terrific. We got a little surge there and we defended well."

Shane Battier compiled 10 points and six boards, while Rockets leading scorer Kevin Martin ended with only eight points. Martin is averaging 23.2 points per game this season and entered the Clippers game posting 25.2 ppg in his last seven contests.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.