Division Rivals Meet

Struggling to put up points this week, the Houston Rockets look to snap a five-game losing streak to the Dallas Mavericks as the Southwest Division rivals meet Saturday at the Toyota Center.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Houston -3 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 189.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas -3 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Houston (12-11) hasn't managed to score 90 points in any of its three games this week, starting with a 93-80 loss at Toronto on Sunday. The Rockets avoided a third straight loss, however, with an 80-77 win over Detroit on Wednesday.

Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming combined to score 50 points, but the story was the Rockets' woeful night at the foul line. They missed 16 of 22 attempts, and McGrady was 0-for-5.

"It's mental. It's just you and the basket," McGrady said. "And the fans definitely don't make it easy on you. Every time you miss, (they say), 'Awwww!' 'Awwww!' That's the worst thing you can do to a player - especially at home."

This is the Rockets' worst three-game scoring output of the season, but correcting that won't be the only challenge they face Saturday. Houston has lost nine of its last 10 meetings against Dallas, including both this season.

The common thread in those two games has been Houston's inability to stop Dallas down the stretch. The Mavericks scored 30 points in the fourth quarter of a 107-98 win on Nov. 5, and rallied from 17 points down by scoring 38 points over the final 12 minutes in a 100-94 victory on Nov. 21.

Dallas (15-9) finished the first meeting on a 21-10 run and the second with a 20-7 spurt.

"It seems like we're always leading them," McGrady told the Rockets' official Web site. "We play well for three quarters and then in the fourth quarter, they make adjustments."

Part of the problem is that Dallas coach Avery Johnson has shifted to a quicker lineup in the fourth quarters with Devin Harris and Jason Terry both on the floor, causing some matchup problems.

"It makes it real difficult for us when they have (Dirk) Nowitzki on the floor with four (smaller) people," Rockets coach Rick Adelman told the Rockets' official Web site. "Obviously, it puts us in a real bind with Yao so we have to make a decision with what to do. But we have to hurt them at the other end."

Yao averaged 25.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the two losses, but it hasn't been enough to this point.

Dallas enters after turning in one of its best defensive performances of the season in an 89-80 win over New Orleans on Friday. The Mavericks limited the Hornets to 35.7 percent shooting - the second-lowest for a Dallas opponent.

"We just took pride in our defense," Johnson said. "I thought we were alert and into the game. They made a little run in the third. But we were able to stay strong throughout the game."

Terry scored a team-high 25 points, but Nowitzki made just 2-of-8 shots for seven points - his lowest output since being held to six in a win over Seattle on Dec. 20, 2006. Nowitzki, the reigning league MVP, also had only 13 points in his previous game, a 92-76 loss at Toronto on Wednesday.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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