Dallas rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 111-106 on Monday night for the Mavericks’ seventh straight win.
Luka Doncic tallied 39 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists, including 29 points while playing the entire second half and a career-high tying 18 made free throws.
Doncic has now scored at least 32 points in each of the last six games, including three 50-point games during that span. He is the first NBA player ever to record at least 225 points, 50 rebounds, and 50 assists over a five-game stretch, according to the Mavericks’ TV broadcast.
Those numbers are why the 23-year-old superstar has won back-to-back Western Conference Player of the Week honors.
Dallas got off to a sluggish, inefficient start, exemplified by Doncic scoring just 10 points and shooting 3-of-12 from the field in the first half.
Subsequently, the Mavericks trailed the 10-win Rockets, the last-place team in the Western Conference, by 11 points (55-44) at halftime and 18 points (65-47) early in the third quarter.
Then, Doncic rediscovered his scoring touch in the second half, and the Mavericks did too, rallying to outscore the Rockets 39-33 in the third quarter and then holding them to 19 points in the fourth while scoring 28.
“I was not worried in the first half, I just needed to be more aggressive,” Doncic said. “That’s what I did in the second half. In the first half, I was passive, and it didn’t work well for us.”
WHAT TO KNOW
The Maverick’s seven-game winning streak is the team’s longest since the 2010-11 season, which ended in Dallas’ lone championship.
However, the team has not exactly faced a murderer’s row during the streak.
Five of the teams they have faced are currently outside the Western Conference’s playoff picture: the 11th-place Minnesota Timberwolves, 13th-place Los Angeles Lakers, 14th-place San Antonio Spurs, and last-place Rockets.
Their other victim, the New York Knicks, currently occupy the No.8 seed in the East.
Still, five of the seven games came down to clutch time, what the NBA defines as games within five points in the last five minutes.
In all three of Doncic’s 50-point games, the Mavericks needed him to hit a last-second dagger or execute a near-perfect intentionally missed free throw to escape with a victory.
On Monday, they needed him to score 29 points in the second half to get in position to win. Doncic would finish 10-of-26 from the field, including 1-of-9 on three-pointers and 18-of-22 from the free-throw line.
Spencer Dinwiddie hit a key midrange jumper to extend the Mavericks’ lead to three points with 10.7 seconds remaining, while Christian Wood had a pair of crucial blocks in the last 3:40.
In his final game against his former team this season, Wood had 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a season-high five blocks while shooting 8-of-14 from the floor. Tim Hardaway Jr. also scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, while Dinwiddie scored 11.
BY THE NUMBERS
Dallas only had eight turnovers, compared to 10 for Houston. They also had more second-chance points than Houston (17-9) and fast break points (7-5).
The Mavericks did get beat on points in the paint (50-40) and also struggled shooting threes, going 13-of-43 (30%) from deep.
Still, the Rockets only shot 1% better from deep than the Mavericks, but since Dallas took 14 more threes, they made four more than Houston.
Wood’s five blocks match the five blocks that every other player that saw the court for both teams had combined. Wood has 13 blocks over his last four games, as he continues to evolve into the rim protector the Mavericks desperately needed.
Kevin Porter Jr. had 25 points to lead the Rockets, Jalen Green added 20 points, and Eric Gordon scored 19 points as Houston lost their fourth straight and seventh straight at home.
“Winning is always great,” Doncic said of the seven-game win streak. “The energy in the locker room is amazing, so to win seven in a row is pretty good, but we want more. I think today we played very bad, but great teams come back and win games.”
Dallas coach Jason Kidd was a player on the 2010-11 championship team, the last Mavericks team to win seven straight.
“To win seven (straight) in this league, it’s not easy to win in this league, it’s easy to lose in this league, but it’s hard to win,” Kidd said.
Houston coach Stephen Silas, an assistant with Dallas during Doncic’s first two seasons in the league, was not happy with the number of free throws given to the 23-year-old superstar.
“I thought we did a good job on him the whole game,” Silas said. “The issue was the fouls. I don’t have enough money to get fined, so I will stop there.”
After their first two-day rest since December 7-8, the Mavericks will host the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday and then the New Orleans Pelicans — currently third in the West — on Saturday.