With MVP front-runner James Harden sidelined, Chris Paul and Eric Gordon shouldered the scoring load as the Houston Rockets cruised to a 105-82 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
While Harden rested his sore left knee, Paul and Gordon produced a shooting clinic, combining for 50 points and 10 3-pointers. Paul added 12 assists as the Rockets recovered from a setback at Toronto on Friday night that resulted in the conclusion of their 17-game winning streak.
Gordon scored 26 points while connecting on 6 of 11 3s; Paul tallied 24 points and hit 4 of 7 from deep. Houston finished 17-for-45 from behind the arc, burying eight 3-pointers in the third quarter to clinch a playoff berth and cap a sweep of the season series against the Mavericks.
During one stretch in the third quarter, Houston had six consecutive baskets come via 3-pointers. Gerald Green (13 points) and Joe Johnson (12) reached double figures off the bench.
Dwight Powell paced Dallas with 20 points. Harrison Barnes scored 14 but shot 4-of-16.
The Rockets fashioned an early blitz even without Harden, dashing to a 20-5 lead on the strength of four 3-pointers and the Mavericks’ woeful shooting. Dallas missed 7 of 8 shots, and the Rockets enjoyed a 14-0 run before Dallas clawed back behind Powell and reserve Nerlens Noel.
As Noel provided energy and rebounding off the bench, Powell shot 5-for-5 and tallied a team-high 11 points in the first half. His 3 at the 9:39 mark of the second quarter cut the deficit to 27-23. As Dallas hit 8 of 10 shots to open the frame, Houston committed five turnovers.
After posting just one turnover in the first quarter, the Rockets totaled eight in the second. The Mavericks turned a 9-0 run into their first lead and later extended their advantage to 46-40 before Houston closed the half with an 8-1 push capped by a Paul floater with 1.7 seconds left to enter the break up 48-47.
Dallas finished plus-10 in shot attempts prior to the break.
—Field Level Media