The Dallas Mavericks, led by a stellar performance from Luka Doncic, clinched a gripping 121-115 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night, derailing the Rockets' aspirations for the NBA In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
Doncic's Near Triple-Double Fuels Mavericks' Win
Luka Doncic was the centerpiece of the Mavericks' victory, scoring 41 points along with nine rebounds and nine assists, narrowly missing out on what would have been his 59th career triple-double.
Such a feat would have tied him with the legendary Larry Bird for ninth place all-time in triple-doubles. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd praised Doncic's performance, highlighting his winning mindset and exceptional capability: “Sometimes we take him for granted, and we shouldn’t.
He’s about winning, but it just so happens he’s a walking triple-double”. Doncic's efforts were complemented by Kyrie Irving, who added 22 of his total 27 points in the second half, contributing significantly to the Mavericks' comeback.
The Mavericks, who had been previously eliminated, played a crucial role in determining the group's outcome, paving the way for the New Orleans Pelicans to top Group B in the Western Conference with a 3-1 record.
Key Moments and Strategic Plays
The game saw the Mavericks overturn a nine-point deficit in the third quarter, eventually seizing the lead for good at 99-98 on a drive by Irving.
A critical 8-2 run, bolstered by Derrick Jones Jr.' s three free throws, solidified the Mavericks' position late in the game. Despite a late surge from the Rockets, including a 3-pointer by Jabari Smith Jr., the Mavericks held on to secure the win.
Doncic, who played despite a low-grade sprain on his left thumb, exhibited his skill with a remarkable hook shot, playfully noting his rare use of the move. Irving's second-half resurgence, following a less impactful first half, was crucial in turning the tide for the Mavericks.
On the Rockets' side, Alperen Sengun's season-best 31 points stood out, with six Houston players scoring in double figures. However, the Rockets' road game struggles continued, marking their sixth consecutive loss away from home this season.
The Mavericks' decision not to use the specially built court for their home tournament games due to quality concerns added an unusual backdrop to the contest.