Balanced attack helps Mavs down Houston

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Dirk Nowitzki led six Dallas players in double figures with 19 points and the Mavericks edged the Houston Rockets, 105-100, on Wednesday at American Airlines Center.

Shawn Marion and O.J. Mayo scored 18 points apiece, Elton Brand added 11 and Darren Collison and Jae Crowder each netted 10 for the Mavs, winners of four straight.

"Our defense was poor, we kept putting them on the free throw line, but we made plays," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. " We did what we needed to do to win. It was a tough game."

James Harden scored 20 points, Jeremy Lin added 19 and Chandler Parsons donated 18 points the for the Rockets, who have dropped a season-high five straight.

"They did a great job of protecting the rim, and we got in the paint and had a few that either got blocked or that we missed," Lin said. "They also got to the foul line a lot down the stretch, and they were in the bonus and did a good job of attacking us."

Dallas led 80-73 entering the fourth quarter and opened the frame with an 11-7 sequence to push its lead to 91-80 with just under eight minutes remaining.

Houston, though, countered with a 14-4 burst capped by a Lin 3-pointer to pull to within 95-94 with 3:40 remaining.

After Nowitzki's step-back jumper made it 97-94, Harden sunk a pair of free throws and Lin added one from the stripe to tie the game at with just 1:50 to play.

The Mavs, though, went 8-for-8 from the line down the stretch while holding the Rockets to just three points to seal the win.

Dallas smothered Houston defensively early on, forcing nine turnovers in the first quarter and holding the Rockets to 31.6 percent (6-for-19) shooting from the floor to take a 29-18 lead into the second period.

The Rockets outscored the Mavs, 26-23, in the second to cut the deficit to 52-44 at the break. Harden, Parsons and Omer Asik each scored six points in the third frame to pull Houston within 80-73 entering the final 12 minutes.

Game Notes

The Mavericks will host Oklahoma City on Friday ... Harden has scored at least 20 points in 22 straight games ... Asik finished with 15 rebounds along with 12 points ... The Rockets will face the Indiana Pacers on Friday.