Harden, Rockets aim to extend win streak vs. Mavericks
The Houston Rockets are finally suiting up a healthy squad, James Harden has another 30-point streak brewing and on Sunday the Rockets will shoot for a season-best eight-game win streak when they visit the struggling Dallas Mavericks.
Don't look know, but Harden and the Rockets, the squad that took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals a year ago before succumbing with Chris Paul sidelined by a hamstring injury, have moved into the top three in the competitive West.
"I think it's very obvious with Clint, Chris and James playing together and they're all healthy and in rhythm, we're pretty hard to beat," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said after the win against the Sixers.
The Rockets' newfound and welcomed good health, however, appeared like it might be short-lived when Harden headed for precautionary X-rays on his right wrist after falling on it in the second quarter of Friday's blowout win against the Sixers. The southpaw received good news as the X-rays were negative, and he plans to play against Dallas as he seeks a sixth consecutive game with at least 30 points.
Houston has averaged 115.0 points a game during their current seven-game win streak and is 21-9 after Friday's easy win over Philadelphia when Harden, Paul and Clint Capela all play. Paul and Capela have missed a combined 34 games this season.
"Our pace and energy have been really good, and it always helps to be healthy," Paul said.
Dallas, which has dropped four in a row and nine of 10, is playing out the string with high hopes to get back in the playoff mix next season with what appears will be another major roster overhaul.
Since the franchise traded four starters away at the deadline to acquire 7-foot-3 center-forward Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks and free up salary cap space for a run at key free agents, its offense has gone into the tank.
For the remainder of this season, the Mavs are left to make do with rookie-of-the-year favorite Luka Doncic and a roster full of players who've typically come off the bench. In this high-scoring NBA, Dallas has been held to 106 points or fewer in six of their last 10 games, and twice were held in the 80s while getting thumped by 30 and 39 points, respectively.
Doncic had 24 points and eight rebounds in Friday's loss at Orlando, ending their road trip at 0-3. Perhaps the only intrigue left for this season, besides where Dallas will be positioned in the lottery, is Dirk Nowitzki's pursuit of Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Nowitzki, playing in his 21st season, and possibly his last, enters Sunday's game needing 41 points to pass Chamberlain's career total of 31,419 points, which currently places him at No. 6 all-time.
How many games it will take Nowitzki to get there is an open-ended question for the sweet-shooting 7-footer who has averaged just 5.6 points in 13.2 minutes a game.
"It's kind of been a long time coming," Nowitzki said after he matched a season-high with 15 points at Orlando. "It's been a tough year for me, haven't really gotten going. What was it at the beginning of the season? Two-hundred-something points (behind Chamberlain) That used to be, I don't know, two weeks. Now it's basically a whole season."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 10, 2019