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Brand helps Mavericks hold off Rockets 105-100

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 11:37 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013

DALLAS (AP) — James Harden drove to the basket with his potent left hand, intent on breaking a late tie against the Dallas Mavericks.

His layup attempt never reached the rim.

Elton Brand's critical block led to a pair of tiebreaking free throws by O.J. Mayo, and Dirk Nowitzki hit several big shots and finished with 19 points to turn back a Jeremy Lin-led rally in the Mavericks' 105-100 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

"I had two or three. Which one was it?" Brand said when asked about the block, managing to keep a straight face for a few seconds before breaking into a big grin.

He knew which one it was.

"He's one of the best finishers in the league," Brand said. "I just tried to do what I could to get a stop right there."

The Mavericks, who won a season-high fourth straight game, got plenty of stops on Harden. The NBA's fourth-leading scorer finished with 20 points but had just five midway through the third quarter and was held to 5-of-23 shooting. He barely extended his career-best streak of games with at least 20 points to 22.

Lin was the bigger threat in the fourth quarter. With Houston trailing 93-82, he hit two free throws and consecutive driving layups to start a 15-4 surge that tied the score at 97. He also had a 3-pointer, but missed three of six free throws down the stretch. One would have given Houston its first lead since the first quarter, and the last cost the Rockets a chance to tie with 57 seconds left.

"Well, if I could hit a free throw that would be nice," said Lin, a 78 percent foul shooter who had 19 points but went 6 of 10 from the line.

Mayo's free throws put Dallas ahead 99-97 with 1:02 remaining, and Lin had a chance to tie it after drawing a foul call that Dallas didn't like. His miss gave the Mavericks the ball back with the lead, but Mike James missed a long jumper. Harden couldn't get a good look at a layup on the other end, and Nowitzki won a scramble for the ball and made two more free throws.

The Rockets had a last chance to tie, but Lin committed their 16th turnover trying to get the ball to Chandler Parsons, who had 18 points. Harden, Lin and Parsons — Houston's three outside scoring threats — combined to make 17 of 50 from the field as the Rockets shot 39 percent and lost a season-high fifth straight coming off their second five-game winning streak, also a season best.

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