Slovenia’s Luka Doncic continued his otherworldly start to the NBA season, scoring 41 points as the Dallas Mavericks won their fifth straight with a 137-123 victory over the slumping Houston Rockets.
Doncic, whose remarkable start has his per game averages at near triple-double levels, also had 10 assists and six rebounds while Rockets superstar James Harden finished with 32 points and 11 assists in a showdown of dominant scorers.
The 20-year-old’s fellow European sidekick Kristaps Porzingis, of Latvia, also recorded a double-double on Sunday with 23 points and 13 rebounds as the Mavericks led wire-to-wire for the victory.
“Luka runs the show,” Porzingis said. “We all depend on him most of the game, and he’s playing incredible right now. He’s getting guys open looks… I’m super happy for him.”
Heading into Sunday’s contest, Doncic was averaging 33.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 11.0 assists during the Mavericks’ five-game streak which included back-to-back 40 point-plus victories over Cleveland and Golden State.
Tim Hardaway scored 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including five of 11 on three-pointers in the win in front of a crowd of 18,050 at Toyota Center arena.
“This is a big win. There’s no question about that,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “You come in here, this is a big-time place to play and you’re playing against great players.
“So our guys deserve credit but this is a process and it’s day by day and week by week, and we’ve got to continue to go for daily improvement.”
– ‘They punched us good’ –
The Rockets dropped their third straight game following an eight-game winning streak. Houston had their moments when they came close to forcing a tie but they always fell just short.
Dallas shot 48 percent overall and hit 17 of 44 three-pointers. The Rockets finished 10 of 44 from beyond the arc as Harden alone missed 13 of the 15 three-pointers he attempted.
The Rockets opened the game with three turnovers on their first three possessions, fuelling the Mavericks’ 7-0 start.
“We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game and when you give a team like that comfort… they gain confidence. And that’s what they did,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Clint Capela recorded his sixth 20-rebound game in seven starts, delivering 22 rebounds with 21 points.
Russell Westbrook added 27 points, while P.J. Tucker and Danuel House scored 16 points apiece.
“They punched us good and we fall all the way back. When you do that, you run out of gas,” said D’Antoni.
Elsewhere, Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a clutch three-pointer with 88 seconds remaining as the visiting Sacramento Kings pulled out a 113-106 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 26 points, including two free throws with 1:56 left that set the stage for Bogdanovic’s heroic three.
Bogdanovic added three free throws in the final 62 seconds as the Kings won their seventh game in the last 10.
Bradley Beal had 20 points and a game-high eight assists to pace the Wizards, who led by as many as seven points in the first half.
In the late game, Montrezl Harrell scored 24 of his 34 points in the second half as the Los Angeles Clippers breezed to a 134-109 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.