DALLAS -- The No. 1 item on the Dallas Mavericks' shopping list when they play Houston tonight is finding a way to contain Rockets guard James Harden.
When the Mavs defeated the Rockets, 116-109, on Dec. 8, Harden poured in 39 points, grabbed six rebounds, dispensed nine assists, picked up two steals, was 15-of-16 from the free throw line, and 10-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-9 from three-point territory. In other words, Harden was a one-man wrecking crew.
Thus, a lot of the Mavs' film sessions leading up to tonight's 7 o'clock tipoff at American Airlines Center was focused on what to do with Harden, who is fourth in the NBA in scoring with 26.4 points per game.
"One guy is not going to stop him,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's going to have to be our team reacting to where he's at on the floor.
"We have to be very precise in how we're playing him because a guy with that kind of range and that kind of ball skills and ability to get to the rim and get to the free throw line, he taxes your defense in ways most players don't.''
One player who will likely get his turn at defending Harden tonight is Dahntay Jones, who loves to get in shooter's grill when playing defense. As far as defending Harden, Jones said:
"You keep him out the paint and try to make him take as many contested two's as possible. And try to keep him off the free throw line.''
-- Dwain Price
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