Final: Mavs 107, Rockets 104
Wow. I mean what can you even say? Luka Doncic is unbelievable. That was a special few minutes of basketball thanks to a 19-year-old rookie from Slovenia.
Dallas took down Houston tonight thanks to many more players than only Doncic, however. Wesley Matthews had his highest-scoring game since Nov. 6, Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 14 points, and DeAndre Jordan racked up 12 points and 20 rebounds. (He grabbed nine offensive boards, tied for the most by any Maverick since April 2015.) He also linked up with Brunson on a backdoor cut for the Mavs’ final bucket of the night.
The key to the game was this: Every single Mavericks starter was at least +8 tonight. For too long, the starting lineup has fallen behind in either the first or third quarter, and the bench has had to play out of a hole. Tonight, however, Dallas outscored Houston in both frames, by a combined tally of 60-57 — which, for what it’s worth, proved to be the difference in the game. Doncic played a spectacular few minutes, there’s no doubt about it, but the rest of the starters carried heavy loads for the entire game, too.
After a 12-38 record in clutch games last season, Dallas is now 7-5 in such games this season, when the score is within five at any point in the final five minutes of regulation. The Mavs sport a 98.8 defensive rating in the clutch this season, which is the sixth-best mark in the league. (For the season, Dallas ranks 13th in defensive efficiency.) Doncic is 14 of 22 from the field in the clutch this season, sporting an absurd 70.5 effective field goal percentage. The best players help win the toughest games.
The Mavericks are now 11-2 at home this season and have won nine straight in this building. Two more home games are coming in the next four days, giving Dallas a golden opportunity to extend the streak into the double-digits and possibly gain even more ground in the Western Conference after that regrettable 2-7 start to the season. The West remains wacky — Dallas is only 3.5 games out of first place, which is wonderful, but just 2.5 games separate the Mavs from 14th-place Houston. One single slip-up could cost you as many as three or four spots in the standings. It’s wild. This is a big week ahead for Dallas.
The Mavs (13-11) are home for the next two games as well and play Orlando on Monday. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.