Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Mavs have shown some signs of life in the past week, winning three games in a row. The Rockets are trending in the other direction, losing four games in a row. O.J. Mayo and James Harden will go at it again after an epic duel back in December.
Just one week ago, the Dallas Mavericks were floundering, sitting at 10 games under .500 after a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. But in the last week, the Mavericks have begun to turn things around, and they head into their Wednesday night Texas showdown against the Houston Rockets winners of three straight.
The Mavs' offense has kicked into high gear during the three-game winning streak, scoring more than 100 points in each of the victories. Dallas is averaging 111.3 points over the three games and has won its last two by an average of 18 points. That includes an extremely impressive 104-83 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
While star Dirk Nowitzki is still rounding into form, numerous other guys have picked up the slack during the streak. O.J. Mayo nearly notched a triple-double in Dallas' victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, and still leads the team in scoring by a rather wide margin at 18.3 points per game. Also, Shawn Marion, Darren Collison, Vince Carter and Elton Brand all have put up at least one 20-point game over the last three.
The scorching Mavs should have a great opportunity to keep that offense rolling with the Rockets coming to town, as Houston has struggled on the defensive end this season. The Rockets are last in the NBA in points allowed, and while some of that has to do with their extremely fast pace (tops in the league), much of it also has to do with poor defense.
Houston has been pretty bad overall of late, losing four straight games and seeing its record drop to 21-18 after a five-game winning streak. The Rockets have given up over 100 points in their last three losses, and their normally high-powered offense has not been able to keep up.
James Harden has kept up his strong play amid the team's struggles, and he has not scored fewer than 20 points in a game since putting up just 15 on Dec. 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Harden is fourth in the league in scoring at 26.4 points per game and has upped his field goal percentage to 45.5 percent after a somewhat slow start. And perhaps most impressively, the shooting guard is getting to the line a shade under 10 times a game.
This will be the second game between the Mavs and Rockets this season. Dallas won in, you guessed it, a shootout back on Dec. 8 in Houston. Mayo scored 40 points in the 116-109 victory, out-dueling Harden, who scored 39 points of his own. It should be fun to see what those guys have in store as an encore.
Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET.