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James Harden's missed free throws hurt Rockets as they fall to Mavericks

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Dwight Howard had his most efficient night as a Rocket, but the Rockets were unable to hold on against the Mavericks, falling 123-120.

Ronald Martinez

After blowing a big lead late, James Harden stepped to the line with nine seconds left with two free throws and a chance to tie the game. The first one went in as expected, swishing the net without touching rim. The second was not so fortunate, and ultimately led to their demise on a night that started off so well. The Rockets led by 14 after three, but a 36-19 spurt in the fourth quarter by the Mavericks led to the Rockets demise.

On the bright side, Dwight Howard chased history by making his first 11 shots, and finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds in perhaps his best game as a Rocket. Chandler Parsons added 21 points and 11 assists, and Terrence Jones continued his streak of nice play with 18 points (though he did have just 2 boards).

In the end, though, a combination of horrific bench play (Jeremy Lin had one point on 0-5 shooting), a spurt of cold shooting, and an inability to control the ball in the fourth quarter spelled the Rockets defeat against the Mavericks, who have yet to win in Dallas in four years. The Mavericks made twelve straight shots at one point, ended the game on an 11-2 run, and generally made the Rockets look silly down the stretch. That cannot happen if this team has championship aspirations.

We'll have a full recap for you later tonight.