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Luka Doncic pours in 50 as Mavs topple Rockets

Dec 23, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) dribbles the ball as Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock (25) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic scored a season-high 50 points and sank a clinching 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining to carry the visiting Dallas Mavericks to a 112-106 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Doncic added eight rebounds, 10 assists and three steals while shooting 17 of 30 overall and 6 of 12 from behind the arc. He scored 32 points in the second half while finishing one point shy of his career high.

The Mavericks won their second game in a row while the Rockets closed a seven-game homestand with five consecutive losses.

Doncic was almost solely responsible for Dallas extending to a 105-97 lead with 5:11 left, but the Rockets responded with a 7-0 run that sliced that margin to one point on an Alperen Sengun layup with 3:13 to go.

Dallas’ Davis Bertans drilled a corner 3-pointer to stifle that run, and the Rockets fumbled away opportunities on the offensive end before Doncic delivered the dagger.

Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. paired a career-high 24 points with 10 rebounds, Jalen Green added 23 points and eight boards, and Sengun had 19 points, eight boards and seven assists.

Two early Kenyon Martin Jr. 3-pointers allowed the Rockets to dart to a 14-4 start in the third quarter, and Smith continued the surge with a trey that lifted the Rockets to a 69-67 lead.

That initiated a riveting stretch played in a tight window, with the lead changing hands 11 times in the third in addition to five ties. Green scored 13 points in the Rockets’ 34-point frame, with Doncic tallying 15 to keep the Mavericks close and set the stage for his individual surge in the fourth.

With Kevin Porter Jr. saddled with three fouls in the first quarter, the Rockets had to dig into their bench earlier than usual. The Mavericks found their pace late in the first, closing on an 11-1 run with Doncic scoring seven points with an assist during that span to take a 30-24 lead.

Houston committed five turnovers that Dallas turned into 11 first-quarter points, and the Mavericks shot 9 of 10 at the line in the period.

Dallas showed signs of pulling away in the second quarter, shooting 52.4 percent in the frame while getting a pair of 3-pointers from both Spencer Dinwiddie and Theo Pinson — the latter’s first treys of the season.

The Mavericks led by as many as 16 in the second period before Houston sliced that margin to 61-50 at the break, in part by going 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.

–Field Level Media