The 5 takeaways from the Mavs’ 94-93 loss to the Houston Rockets
Mar 11, 2019Dwain Price
DEFENSE WAS ON POINT: It had to be difficult for the Mavs to walk away from Sunday’s game against the Rockets without getting a win after they put on one of the best defensive performances of the season. In addition to holding the Rockets to just 94 points – their lowest point total in a win in two-and-a-half seasons – Houston shot just 36.4 percent from the field and misfired on 36 of their 52 shots from 3-point range. This also snapped a streak of 12 consecutive games where teams had scored at least 100 points on the Mavs. And it was just the 13th time all season that the Mavs have held an opponent under 100 points.
LUKA’S NEAR TRIPLE-DOUBLE: Dogged all night by the Rockets’ aggressive defense, rookie Luka Doncic still came close to registering his fifth triple-double of the season. Doncic finished the game with 19 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and a game-high tying nine assists. He also picked up two steals and blocked two shots. It wound up being the 17th double-double of the season for Doncic. In fact, for the first time in his career, Doncic already posted a double-double by halftime of Sunday’s game when he had 10 points and 13 rebounds at that juncture. And the 37 minutes Doncic played tied for his third-highest of the season.
MAXI MAXIMIZED HIS MINUTES: In his first game back after missing the previous two games due to left knee effusion, Maxi Kleber delivered big-time for the Mavs as he posted his first double-double of the season and the second one of his two-year career. While playing 31 minutes off the bench, Kleber tallied 10 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds. The only time the second-year forward has played more minutes in a game this season occurred on Jan. 9 when he produced 13 points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes in a game against the Phoenix Suns. Kleber also blocked three shots against the Rockets.
BRUNSON SETTLING INTO A GROOVE: Jalen Brunson is consistently making a strong case as to why he will at least be on the NBA’s All-Rookie second team this season. Brunson scored 18 points, collected seven rebounds and handed out four assists in 35 minutes against the Rockets. It’s the second-most minutes he’s played this season – Brunson played 36 minutes against Washington last Wednesday. The point total means Brunson has now scored 10 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career. In addition, Brunson was 5-of-5 from the free throw line against the Rockets, with the attempts being one shy of his career high for a game.
MAVS MADE HARDEN PRACTICALLY A NON-FACTOR: James Harden took the NBA by storm recently when he rambled through various defenses around the league and scored 30 or more points in 34 straight games. But on Sunday, Harden had to struggle against the Mavs just to finish the game with 20 points. It was only the fourth time this season Harden has been held to 20 points or less in a game. Overall, Harden was just 7-of-25 from the field, including only 3-of-15 from beyond the 3-point arc. And while playing the entire 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, Harden was 0-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point land while scoring no points against the Mavs’ sticky defense.