As a power forward Dwight Howard was a good center.

He was not bad at power forward either but little he or the Rockets did with their Supersized lineup experiment quite measured up to when they went small.

There were stretches when the Rockets' pairing of this season's center Howard and last season's center Omer Asik worked well. They had times when they locked down the lane and controlled the boards. There were also times when the defensive rotations bogged down and offensive spacing was clogged.

Yet for whatever promise the Rockets showed when they went extra large when they went back to what they know and do best with Howard inside and shooters firing away on the perimeter they rolled. They hit 3s and ran the break long enough Monday night to knock off the Dallas Mavericks 100-95 at Toyota Center in Howard's best most dominant game of the preseason.

"It was the first game" Howard said of the Supersized experiment after totaling 15 points 17 rebounds and three steals. "I thought it was OK. There's some things we have to work on. Being able to talk to each other and rotate is something we have to adjust to. It's the first game. It's a good test for us. We'll be better."

The lineup with Asik and Howard was on the floor for about 14 minutes more than enough to give McHale plenty of tape to show at Tuesday's practice including several strong possessions with Howard matched against Dirk Nowitzki.

Howard stepped out on an early pick-and-pop and still got back in the paint to come up with a steal. On another possession he contested a Nowitzki shot and when Nowitzki missed ran the floor well enough to post him up before the Mavericks could switch Samuel Dalembert back to him.

On other possessions Howard failed to step out on screens allowing Jose Calderon to take midrange target practice. Another pick-and-pop ended with Howard's sinking into the lane and Nowitzki left alone to launch a 3.

"I thought I did pretty good tonight with showing on the pick-and-rolls with Dirk" Howard said. "There were a couple times in the first quarter I wasn't used to getting out there but then I did a better job. It's good to mess up. You're not going to be perfect out there."

Howard inside

But the Rockets did their real damage when Howard was in the middle and they had him surrounded with shooters.

That brought some lineup combinations at least as interesting as the Howard/Asik pairing. Chandler Parsons matched up with Nowitzki in his first playing time of the preseason at power forward. Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley again played long stretches together. Omri Casspi continued to play power forward eventually taking a flagrant-2 foul smack in the face that got Nowitzki tossed from the game.

The small lineups helped the Rockets hit 13 of 28 3-pointers enough to overcome 23 turnovers.

"That's also a more comfortable faster more exciting style of play so it looks better" Parsons said. "But it's good to be able to go with Dwight and Omer especially against bigger teams.

Matter of time

"It's just going to take time. Those guys have never really done that. With our system we've never really done that. As guards we have to understand when to drive where to drive. As bigs they have to understand where to space the floor. Some good things happened with it and we can get better with it."