GAMEDAY RECAP MAVS @ ROCKETS 1-3-2023
ROCKETS HOST MVP FRONT RUNNER LUKA DONCIC, MAVS FOR THIRD TIME IN 11 DAYS.
Coming into Monday nights game, Doncic has been on an offensive tear unlike anything ever witnessed in the history of the NBA.
Doncic produced 51 points, six rebounds and nine assists in the Mavericks' 126-125 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday for his third 50-point performance over his last five games. Doncic torched the Rockets for 50 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists two days before Christmas and demolished the New York Knicks with a historic 60-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist triple-double on Dec. 27.
Against the Spurs, Doncic shot 18 of 29, made 6 of 10 3-pointers and added four steals to lead the Mavericks to their sixth consecutive victory. He is averaging 42.2 points (on 58.7 percent shooting), 10.8 rebounds and 10.2 assists during the win streak.
Can he add to his case for the Leagues Most Valuable Player?
Let's find out.
Mavs start off sloppy.
Rockets SG Eric Gordon would open up the game with a 3pointer that would set the tone for the first half. Gordon was quoted last week as saying "there's no improvement" when it comes to his young Houston Rocket squad. Many wondered outloud if this was a veteran media play to try and get traded to a contender.
Dallas would start the quarter looking like they might of partied to hard for NYE. starting out 0-4 from the field and looking a bit sloppy. Mavs center Christian Wood would put up the first Dallas points at the 9:45 mark with a bucket under the rim.
The Mavericks would move the ball well early in the first with each player touching the rock on most possessions early on. A recipient of this fantastic ball movement would be Tim Hardaway JR. who hit his 99th and 100th three pointer of the season in this quarter.
7:11 Luka would score his first bucket of the game following up his own miss. Doncic looked to me like he was trying to get his teammates involved early by passing out of the double team as soon as it came. You could tell the embarrassing loss that the Houston Rockets received at the hands of Luka's Mavs was still on their mind. The Rockets came out with much more intensity on both ends of the floor.
1:48 Houston Rocket guard Jalen Green would put a tremendous amount of pressure scoring at the rim in the quarter, and also earning a couple of trips to the FT line at the expense of the Dallas bigs.
The quarter would end with Kenyon Martin JR. son of NBA LEGEND driving to the lane and scoring at the rim with a foul being called. At first it was called a charge and then later overturned with a coaches challenge the Rockets would lead after one 26-18.
Luka looking lethargic.
Doncic would start the second quarter on the bench with Christian Wood and Spencer Dinwiddie leading this unit.
Dinwiddie would start the quarter attacking the rim and getting to the line for his first two points of the game, this would end a 11-0 Houston run dating back to the first frame. Rockets swing man Kevin Porter JR would answer back with a 3point shot that put the rocket up 31-20.
Spencer Dinwiddie would continue his struggle missing two easy layups at the rim. The rhythm that he had before the break seemed to be gone at the start of this game.
At this point after a beautiful Kevin Porter JR. step back jumper the Rockets were in full command of the game 39-25 and it looked like the Mavs were mailing this one in.
Eric Gordon would continue his solid play on the night scoring a floater at the rim after being chased off the three point line, then hitting a his 3rd three from deep forcing a Maverick timeout. (46-34 Houston)
Luka would check back in at the 5:30 mark, instantly getting Christian Wood an open 3point make. Doncic would miss his next few shots at this point in the game he was shooting 2-8 from the field and missing at the FT line.
Jalen Green would continue his aggressive play style forcing the action at the rim getting Wood to commit his 3rd foul of the half. Followed up by a pick and roll drive to the rim sending him to the line where he failed to cash in the freebies.
With 14 seconds remaining in the half Luka would hit a floater off the glass to bring the Mavs within 9 points but not to be outdone Kevin Porter JR. hit on a buzzer beater jumper giving him 15 first half points.
Rockets take a 55-46 lead into the second half.
The rockets would open the second half with a easy layup at the rim but after that opening bucket the quarter belonged to Luka.
10:50 Doncic would drop a dime to Christian Wood who single handedly kept Dallas competitive in the first half, Wood caught the ball in stride and went up with a poster slam AND-1 finish.
Luka knowing he did not have the outside shot tonight would use his size and strength against the Rockets in the third. Opting out of his signature between the legs step back three Doncic drove to the lane every chance that he had. It was very clear to see that during halftime he came to the conclusion that if his squad had any chance to win this game he was going to have to go full on scoring mode. That he did Doncic would end up scoring 19PTs alone in the third getting to the line time after time. Its pretty cool to see what was once a weakness for the young star is now something he has in his tool kit to bring his team back at any point in the game.
The Rockets would hang tough behind the young guys. Jalen Green continue his barrage on the rim showing to me that he clearly is part of the teams future. I was most impressed by second year big Alperen Sengun. He showed fantastic footwork and nice touch around the rim. His offensive game gave me shades of Pau Gasol during his Laker career. Alperen would finish this game with 16PTs 6REBS 5AST. Unfortunately for Rocket fans he did make some rookie like mistakes own the stretch. More of that to come later in the recap.
Tim Hardaway JR. would give the Mavs a big boost from beyond the arc hitting his 5th three of the game midway through the third brining Dallas to within 8 points forcing a Houston Time out.
Spencer Dinwiddie also started to shake off the rust in the third and it looked like the Mavericks we saw before the holiday break. With :09 seconds to go Luka drive down the lane once again determined to either get fouled or finish at the rim. Doncic pump fakes the big into the air banks the floater in and gets fouled AND1!
After Luka hits his FT the Mavericks trail the Rockets 87-83.
Dallas hangs on and outlasts Rockets.
Kevin Martin JR. would open up the final frame with a nice slam at the basket which would be answered by Spencer Dinwiddie's blow by layup on the other end 89-85 HOU.
Mavericks rarely used Theo Pinson came in and gave Dallas a few unexpected minutes when Tim Hardaway Jr had to head into the locker room after a sprained ankle he suffered seconds before the third quarter buzzer rang.
Pinson hit a huge momentum three giving Dallas its first lead of the night 88-89 DAL .
The Rockets would go on a small run earning the lead back and pushing it up to 4 after Sengun shows off some of his fancy footwork and finishes at the rim. 97-93 HOU.
After a few back and forth possessions Luka would make his first three of the game brining the Mavericks within 4 with time running out. 100-96 HOU.
Veteran Reggie Bullock would hit a timely three as well keeping pace with the Rockets who seemed like they couldn't miss 102-99.
Arguably the biggest play of the game came down to EX Rocket big Christian Wood. With Dallas down reeling down 104-99 Luka dropped a bounce pass to his co-star out of the pick and roll where Wood rose up and hit a deep 3 getting fouled in the process. He would go to the line and sink the FT. Earlier mentioned Rocket big Alperen Sengun committed the foul much to his disbelief.
With :16 seconds left in the game, Spencer Dinwiddie would hit a saucy step back jumper to put the Mavs up for what ended up being dagger in Houston's hopes, putting the mass ahead 3 points 109-106.
Then the Mavericks chose to intentionally foul instead of giving the Rockets a look at a three. They would end up sending Alperen Sengun to the line where he missed the front of end of two free throws ultimately putting an end to Rocket comeback.
Luka would ice the game from the line as the Mavericks came back from a 18 point first half deficit. It wasn't the prettiest of wins but at the end of the day with all things considered Dallas will take the win and continue marching up the WCF standings.
They now sit 4th in the west behind the New Orleans Pelicans.
- After a slow start Luka and the Mavs continued to look like themselves before the Christmas break. They have now won 7 straight games, the longest streak since '11 where Dirk and Kidd were teammates.
- Luka and Boston Celtic All-Star Jayson Tatum are my leaders for MVP. I do believe the Celtics have a better constructed roster but Tatum is putting up highly efficient numbers where as Luka is taking the Volume approach.
- The Rockets are pretty bad. They are dead last in the west and even when they were winning this game I saw very little to be excited about. Beside big man Sengun and a few drives from Green the Rockets are putting out a pretty lackluster product.
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