HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden scored 34 points and Dwight Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds in the Houston Rockets' 113-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The Mavericks scored eight straight points, with five from Monta Ellis, to get to 91-83 with eight minutes left. But Dallas lost its star and momentum a couple minutes later when Dirk Nowitzki fouled out on Harden's fast-break layup.
Harden made the free throw as Nowitzki angrily took a seat on the bench. Houston made three more layups after Harden's basket to extend the lead to 16 at 99-83.
Nowitzki had 22 points to lead the Mavericks, and Ellis added 20.
Harden also had four steals, three assists and four rebounds.
Jeremy Lin added 14 points for Houston. Lin was back in the starting lineup at point guard with Patrick Beverley out 10 days to two weeks with a torn muscle in his midsection.
Nowitzki had scored six straight points for Dallas when he drew his fifth foul by knocking Harden down on a driving layup with 2:18 left in the third quarter. Harden hit the shot as he crashed to the court and into people sitting courtside. Nowitzki went to the bench and Harden made the free throw to leave Houston up 81-70.
The Mavericks got within eight points after back-to-back baskets by Shawn Marion. Houston answered with a 9-4 spurt to push it to 73-60 with about five minutes left in the third quarter. Harden made a long 3 at the end of it and bobbed his head and smiled as he ran down the court.
Howard missed his first six free throws before finally making one soon after that, causing some of the loudest cheers of the night from the crowd. He made his next two attempts before disappointing the fans with another miss.
Houston was up by 13 with about nine minutes left in the first half before using an 11-2 run to extend the lead to 53-31 about four minutes later. The Rockets capped that drive with a 3-point play by Harden followed by a steal by him and a reverse layup by Lin.
Dallas got going after that, outscoring Houston 19-8 the rest of the quarter, to cut the lead to 61-50 at halftime. Ellis scored four points in the last 30 seconds of the half after hitting a layup before making two free throws after a flagrant 1 foul by Francisco Garcia.
Garcia knocked Ellis to the floor on a fast break after a steal by Samuel Dalembert.
The Rockets built a 38-22 lead in the first quarter thanks to 12 points by Harden and eight points by Omri Casspi. But Casspi collected three fouls in the first period and didn't play in the second quarter.
NOTES: Houston's D-League team the Rio Grande Valley Vipers selected James Johnson with the second overall pick in the D-League draft Friday night and chose Dario Hunt with the 16th pick. ... The Rockets outrebounded Dallas 51-43.