By Adam Spolane

Despite James Harden being sidelined with left knee soreness, the Rockets had no trouble with Dallas Mavericks, winning Sunday night at the American Airlines Center 105-82.

The win improves the Rockets to 52-14, clinches a playoff spot, and puts them two games above the Golden State Warriors in the loss column for the NBA’s top record.

Trevor Ariza and Harrison Barnes traded three-pointers to start the game, but the Rockets scored the next 14 points and led 25-14 after a quarter, though that lead didn’t last long.

Yogi Ferrell’s reverse layup with 9:18 left in the second capped an 11-2 run to start the second quarter, and with the help of four J.J. Barrea assists, the Mavs led by as many as six, only to see the Rockets close the half with an 8-1 spurt to take a one-point lead into halftime, and from that point on, it was all Rockets.

The teams traded buckets for the first two minutes of the third quarter, but with the Rockets leading 56-54, Eric Gordon knocked down a 3-pointer to push the Rockets lead to five, starting a 14-3 Rockets run to push the lead to double digits, where it remained the rest of the night. The Rockets led by as many as 26 in the fourth quarter.

In Harden’s absence, Eric Gordon led the Rockets in scoring with 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting, canning six three-pointers, while Chris Paul gave the Rockets 24 points and 12 assists.

Gerald Green scored 13 points off the bench, while Joe Johnson chipped in a dozen.

The 82 points allowed by the Rockets is a season-low as Dwight Powell’s 20 points led the Mavericks.

Houston’s defense the Mavs starting back court of Dennis Smith Jr and Yogi Ferrell to a combined six points on 3-of-20 shooting.

The Rockets will be back in action Monday night at Toyota Center against the San Antonio Spurs.


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