Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/22

Game 1: Tuesday, November 22nd
Game 2: Wednesday, January 18th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 15th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 21st

Mavericks 103

(29-10, 14-6 away)

Rockets 76

(12-25, 3-13 home)

    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 18, 2006

    Toyota Center, Houston, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    DAL 19 30 33 21103
    HOU 14 20 16 2676

    Top Performers

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 29 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Stl

    Hou: R. Alston 17 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Mavericks demolish Rockets behind Nowitski's 29

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Even when the Houston Rockets knew what was coming, they couldn't stop the Dallas Mavericks.

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 of his 29 points in a decisive third quarter as the Mavericks opened a five-game road trip with a 103-76 win on Wednesday night over the undermanned Rockets.

    At times in the first half, Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy yelled to his team what Dallas player was going to shoot it, but the Mavericks ran the play anyway and scored.

    It only got worse after halftime, when Nowitzki and the Mavericks pushed a 49-34 lead over 30.

    "Our concentration was great," said Nowitzki, who hit 10 of 14 shots. "We were focused, moved the ball well on the offensive end and got big stops defensively."

    Josh Howard added 18 for the Mavericks, who handed the Rockets their seventh straight loss both overall and at home.

    The Rockets were playing for the fifth straight game without injured stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and were simply no match for the second-best team in the Western Conference.

    "They whipped us," Van Gundy said. "Once the whipping started, I don't think we competed as hard as I would've liked to have seen us -- but that was after the whipping started."

    The Rockets suffered their worst defeat since the Mavericks beat them 116-76 in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series last season. Rafer Alston had 17 and Luther Head added 16 for Houston, which dropped to 3-13 at the Toyota Center.

    Van Gundy said before the game the Mavericks may be better than the team that handled the Rockets in last year's postseason.

    "I don't think they have many weaknesses. I didn't think they had many weaknesses before, either," he said.

    Mavs coach Avery Johnson shrugged off the compliment.

    "We just made a few shots and got going pretty well," Johnson said. "I'm happy with our hustle, I'm happy with our play, but we're not world beaters."

    The Mavericks visit the Clippers on Friday, the first of four straight games on the West Coast.

    "This is the way we wanted to start a road trip," Nowitzki said.

    The Rockets caught an early break when Nowitzki got his second foul and went to the bench with 3:38 left in the first quarter. The Mavericks led only 19-14 after the first quarter.

    "The disheartening thing is, we played them really tough in the first quarter," said Alston. "You know we can play with them. Can you sustain it? That was the key tonight."

    With six players injured, the Rockets couldn't.

    The Mavericks mounted a 13-4 run bridging the first and second quarters and led 30-19 after Erick Dampier sank two free throws with 8:21 left before the break.

    Nowitzki returned with 8:41 left in the second quarter and helped Dallas build the lead to 49-34 by halftime. Guarded by either Juwan Howard and Ryan Bowen in the first half, Nowitzki had 16 points in only 17 minutes.

    "He's a tough matchup," said Juwan Howard. "At his size, he almost plays like a guard. He can shoot the ball really well and he is very good off the dribble."

    Alston scored twice in the first two minutes of the third quarter to keep the Rockets within 15, but Nowitzki swished four straight jumpers, two of them 3-pointers, as the game spun into a rout.

    Houston, the NBA's second-lowest scoring team, missed 11 of 17 shots in the quarter.

    "They are really down on their luck with injuries," said Josh Howard, "but you can't make excuses. You have to play the game."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 103 76
    FGM-FGA 34-68 (.500) 29-71 (.408)
    3PM-3PA 11-17 (.647) 5-14 (.357)
    FTM-FTA 24-31 (.774) 13-23 (.565)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-38 10-29
    Assists 25 16
    Turnovers 15 14
    Steals 8 10
    Blocks 9 3
    Fast Break Points 15 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (1/0) 22 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 35 0

    Top Performers

    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 29
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Rafer Alston Alston
    Points: 17
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1