HOUSTON -- The Dallas Mavericks won't have to worry about Houston guard James Harden tonight when the two teams collide at 7 at the Toyota Center.
That's because the same sprained right ankle which forced Harden to sit out Saturday's game against Detroit will keep him on the sidelines tonight against the Mavs. But that's not exactly good news for Dallas, since Howard had his best game of the season against the Pistons when he finished with 35 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in a 114-97 victory for the Rockets.
"They'll go to Howard a lot in the post, which they did against Detroit, and a lot of other guys will be touching the ball,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of the Rockets' game plan. "You've got to just stay solid on him, you've got to make it hard for him to catch it in his sweet spots, and you've got to contest as best you can.
"And he's shooting free throws a lot better, so just fouling him is not as good an option as it used to be. He had 35 points against Detroit and he blew by their centers on five or six occasions.''
The Mavs will likely use at least three of their four centers -- Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair and Brandan Wright -- on Howard. Second-year center Bernard James may also get a turn trying to contend with Howard.
"The other thing you've got to do is you've got to keep him in front of you, because he's very, very quick,'' Carlisle said. "But we're going to need everybody and we're going to need to be ready to double-team and do all kinds of different things.
"But more importantly we've got to get ourselves into a stance and we've got to guard better. We haven't guarded well the last couple of games and it's really hurt us.''
-- Dwain Price
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