James Harden scored 29 points and the Houston Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks 107-91 on Saturday night in their home opener.
Playing without point guard Chris Paul, who is week-to-week with a left knee injury, Harden frequently bulldozed his way into the paint for layups while also keeping hot from beyond the arc. Harden made six of 13 3-pointers and added seven assists in 29 minutes.
Houston improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season when it started 6-0. Dallas fell to 0-3 for the first time since the 2011-12 season, which followed their NBA title run in 2010-11.
Without Paul, the Rockets started Harden and Eric Gordon in their backcourt, with Demetrius Jackson playing 18 minutes and scoring four points off the bench. Gordon had 18 points, while Clint Capela had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Nene scored 14 points off the bench.
For the Mavericks, both Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea had 19 points, Harrison Barnes had 14 and Wesley Matthews scored 11. Dirk Nowitzki was held to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes.
While the Mavericks played mostly with a smaller, guard-heavy lineup, Houston played its lengthy, physical forwards and
Nowitzki received a technical foul for shouting at an official early in the third quarter. Tasked with playing the role of the paint protector on defense, Nowitzki struggled at times to keep Houston from scoring inside. The Rockets outscored the Mavericks 50-30 in the paint.
Houston outscored the Mavericks in each of the first three quarters by wide margins of 13, 10 and 11 points thanks in large part to red-hot shooting. The Rockets shot 47.6 percent from the field, going 13-for-31 (42 percent) from 3-point range.
Houston led 62-39 at the half.
Mavericks: Rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed his second straight game with swelling in his left knee. Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft, had 16 points and 10 assists in his debut against Atlanta. ... The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted a leave of absence following the death of his brother Thursday.
Rockets: After a 4-0 sweep of the series last season, Houston has won five straight games against Dallas, the longest streak since 1999-2000. The Rockets have won 11 of the past 14 games against Dallas. ... Rookie Zhou Qi made his NBA debut, playing seven minutes in the fourth quarter and posting three rebounds and one block. The 7-foot-1 power forward from China was drafted 43rd overall by Houston in the 2016 draft.
Mavericks: Host Golden State on Monday night.
Rockets: Host Memphis on Monday night.
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