Dallas, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - James Harden followed up a career night with 24 points, six assists and four rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets in a 108-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.
Harden fueled the Rockets' win against Sacramento on Wednesday with a career- high 51 points, and his efforts against the Mavs helped Houston move ahead of Memphis by a half-game in the Southwest Division.
Trevor Ariza supplied 19 points with six assists and six rebounds, while Josh Smith added 15 points with 12 rebounds in the win.
Houston has won six of its last seven.
"In the first three quarters, we would make a run, then give up a run. In that fourth quarter we really wanted to buckle down," Harden said.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 21 points and Monta Ellis scored 19 in the setback.
"The dribble penetration was a problem," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Harden is a foul-creating machine."
Houston went on a 6-0 run early in the fourth to tie the game at 83-83. Richard Jefferson and Nowitzki hit consecutive 3-pointers moments later to push Dallas ahead by six, but the Mavs picked up five fouls over a span of 1:24 to put the Rockets at the line.
Meanwhile, Houston was in the midst of a 14-3 surge that gave it a 102-97 lead. Nowitzki hit a jumper with 1:17 left to cut the deficit to three, however, Ellis' 3-pointer for the tie was off and Ariza knocked down two free throws to extend the lead to 104-99. The Rockets closed out the win from the free throw line to take the season series with their in-state rival.
"The fourth quarter doomed us," Carlisle added.
Each team recorded an 8-0 run in a back-and-forth first quarter before Harden's 3-pointer with over a minute left sent Houston into the second with a 28-25 lead.
Dallas used a 12-2 run early in the second to move out in front 37-32, then Harden's layup cut the Rockets' deficit to one with 3:02 remaining in the first half. The Mavs ended the frame on a 7-0 burst -- with Ellis supplying the final five -- to grab a 55-47 lead at halftime.
Houston scored the first seven points of the third prior to Dallas ripping off eight straight, with Nowitzki's 3-pointer giving it a 63-54 lead.
The Rockets used a 13-4 spurt toward the end of the third to close within two, but Dallas netted the final five points for an 83-77 lead.
Ellis recorded his 5,000th career basket on a layup early in the first ... Chandler Parsons, who scored 11 points, left the game after 26 minutes of action because of knee soreness ... Dallas had won eight of the previous nine home encounters against Houston.