Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/21

Game 1: Thursday, November 21st
Game 2: Tuesday, January 21st
Game 3: Wednesday, January 29th
Game 4: Friday, February 21st

Rockets 86


Mavericks 107


    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, January 21, 2003

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    HOU 27 13 26 2086
    DAL 30 29 23 25107

    Top Performers

    Houston: S. Francis 26 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 Blk

    Dallas: D. Nowitzki 26 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Mavericks snap three-game losing slide

    DALLAS (AP) -- For one quarter, the Dallas Mavericks once again looked like the team with the best record in the NBA.

    For four quarters, the Houston Rockets didn't look anything like the team they've been this season.

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 of his 26 points during a gamebreaking second quarter and Raef LaFrentz contained Yao Ming, helping the Mavericks end a three-game losing streak with a 107-86 victory over the listless Rockets on Tuesday night.

    "It was good to see us win again. It seems like a month, not a week, since we won,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said.

    Returning home from a dismal West Coast trip, the Mavericks drilled their first four shots -- all long jumpers -- and led by 12 points early. Although Houston briefly went ahead, Dallas regained control by outscoring the Rockets 29-13 in the second quarter. The game was never close again.

    "The problem on the road trip was that we were lacking energy, so tonight we needed to get back to running and being aggressive,'' Nowitzki said. "It was a good team effort.''

    Nowitzki rebounded from a scoreless first quarter to score eight of Dallas' first nine points in the second, starting with a layup off a great spin move. Instead of relying on jumpers, the Mavs began driving, which opened up their entire offense.

    Their defense was solid, too, primarily with the way LaFrentz slowed Yao.

    Yao had 30 points and 16 rebounds against Shawn Bradley and the Dallas zone when the teams met in November. This time, LaFrentz took him on man-to-man and held him to six points and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

    LaFrentz, 7 inches shorter than Yao, blocked three of his shots and once tied him up to force a jump ball, which LaFrentz won.

    "The way Yao played last time, he had easy looks, so we just tried to keep a body on him,'' LaFrentz said.

    Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich had another explanation.

    "I think he's tired,'' Tomjanovich said. "I think he needs to take two days off and rest. He needs to get his batteries recharged.''

    Yao insisted he wasn't worn out.

    "I felt I had good opportunities, I just didn't put the ball in the basket,'' he said.

    Asked about LaFrentz's defense, Yao smiled and said, "We'll see what happens next time.'' The teams meet again next Wednesday in Houston.

    In losing their second straight since an exciting overtime victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets committed a season-high 26 turnovers and had a season-low eight assists. That horrible combination not surprisingly produced their most lopsided loss of an otherwise strong season. At 23-17, Houston is 10 games better than their 13-27 record at the same point last season.

    "When you shoot 43 free throws and outrebound a team, you figure the game is going to be close, but 30 points off turnovers ... holy Moses!'' Tomjanovich said. "We had horrible decision-making.''

    Dallas hadn't lost consecutive games all season until falling to Sacramento, Phoenix and Seattle over the last five days. In avoiding their first four-game losing streak since March 2000, the Mavericks improved their league-leading record to 32-8. All other teams have at least 11 losses.

    Steve Nash had 20 points and eight assists and Michael Finley scored 19 points, including the 5,000th of his career on a hard-fought tip-in just before the buzzer at the end of the third quarter.

    LaFrentz had eight points. In addition to his stuffs on Yao, he also rejected a dunk attempt by James Posey.

    Posey typified Houston's offensive woes by following that embarrassment with an airball on a 3-pointer on the next possession.

    Houston's Steve Francis, coming off a four-point game that was his worst since going scoreless as a rookie, had 26 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He was 8-for-17.

    Cuttino Mobley scored 16.

    Eddie Griffin didn't play because of a tight back. He's listed as day-to-day and could be ready Friday against Detroit.

    Game notes

    Dallas won its fifth straight at home and beat Houston for the sixth time in eight meetings. ... Francis wowed the crowd with two fake passes on one layup in the first quarter. ... Former European star Antoine Rigaudeau got a big ovation when he made his first home-court appearance. Rigaudeau, who signed Friday and made his debut Sunday, made a layup in the final minute for his first career points. He'd missed his first seven NBA shots. ... Nash is challenging the team record for consecutive free throws (49), which he set last month. He hit four, giving him 44 straight. Rolando Blackman's mark of 45 had stood since 1991.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 107
    FGM-FGA 25-65 (.385) 36-86 (.419)
    3PM-3PA 1-6 (.167) 8-18 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 35-43 (.814) 27-28 (.964)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 18-46 14-37
    Assists 8 22
    Turnovers 26 9
    Steals 4 15
    Blocks 3 6
    Fast Break Points 3 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 32 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 26
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 2
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 26
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1