Mavs try to wrangle Rockets in Houston

Texas pride is at stake on Sunday evening when the Houston Rockets host the Dallas Mavericks in a battle of two teams gunning for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks trail the Rockets by five games and time is certainly not on their side. Although, history is to some extent.

The Mavericks have won nine in a row against their Southwest Division rival, including two wins this season, one at home and one away. Dallas has taken four in a row in Houston.

Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak with a 98-90 victory in Brooklyn against the Nets on Friday.

The Mavs squandered a 25-point lead Wednesday night in Memphis, losing to the Grizzlies by six, so Dallas was guarded against that happening twice in a week.

Dallas didn't build a 25-point cushion on Friday night, but the advantage swelled to 20 in the second half against Brooklyn. The Nets fought back, but the Mavs prevailed to go 2-16 on the road against teams with winning records.

"We've just got to keep emphasizing the importance of playing 48 minutes and not 20," head coach Rick Carlisle said. "You know, we played a 20-minute game the other night. We played the first 20 minutes and then after that we had a lot of falloff. I've got to keep reminding the guys the things that get us leads - good defense, maintaining tempo, making simple plays without turning it over, being unselfish and finding each other."

Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter paced the Mavs with 20 points apiece. O.J. Mayo had 17.

The Rockets ended a two-game losing streak in Orlando Friday. They prevailed over the Magic, 118-110 after an 11-0 run with five minutes to go proved to be the difference.

"We'd lost two and haven't played (well)," said head coach Kevin McHale. "We don't have a great rhythm right now. We've been a team that's been kind of start-and-stop, start-and-stop all year. We've got to hit the start button here and get some rhythm again."

James Harden led the Rockets as always, this time with 24 points. Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino chipped in 21 points apiece, while newly-minted starter Donatas Motiejunas added 17, Patrick Beverly 13 and Jeremy Lin 11.

The Rockets lead the NBA in scoring and have topped the century mark in five straight and 15 of their last 16. During those 16 games, Houston has allowed 100 or more 12 times.

These two squads meet again on Wednesday, this time in Dallas. The Rockets then head west for games with the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns.

After Dallas hosts Houston on Wednesday, the Mavs go back on the road, where they played three straight including Sunday. They will visit Detroit, Minnesota, Milwaukee and San Antonio.