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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
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Rockets lose to Mavericks 137-123
Posted: November 24, 2019 -- 9:55 p.m. CT
HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- Sunday afternoon, the Houston Rockets committed three turnovers in the first 49 seconds and trailed the Dallas Mavericks 7-0. The Rockets did not recover and never led in a 137-123 loss to the Mavericks.
The Rockets have lost a season-high three straight games after winning a season-best eight in a row prior.
Houston trailed by as much as 22 points in Sunday's game.
"Whole game of playing catch up," Austin Rivers acknowledged after the game. "So, at that point, it's a game of runs. When you have to be perfect, it's hard. We put ourselves in a hole. We had to be perfect to win the game. You're not giving yourself a good chance with that playing against a team with a scorer like they did with Luka (Doncic) on the floor. That dude is incredible."
The Rockets (11-6) turned the ball over 3 more times in the opening quarter; and, the Mavs turned the 7 turnovers into 12 points to help Dallas to a 45-29 lead at the end of the first quarter. Houston made one more basket (8) than the 7 turnovers.
James Harden sank a three-point step back jump shot trim Houston's deficit to 29-27 with 2:41 left in the first quarter. Eight seconds later, Russell Westbrook subbed into the game for Harden. With Harden on the bench, the Rockets were outscored 16-2 in the final 2:33 of the first quarter.
"We were flat and they weren't," Mike D'Antoni, Rockets Head Coach said after the game.
The dynamic duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 21 points in the first quarter. Doncic scored 11 and had 4 assists while Porzingis scored 10; grabbed 8 rebounds; dished out 2 assists; and blocked 1 shot.
In the second quarter, Houston climbed within 10 points (57-47) after Danuel House Jr made a three-point shot. However, Dallas finished the quarter outscoring the Rockets 21-13 and took a 78-60 lead into halftime.
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Houston trailed 89-69 in the third quarter; but, the Rockets used a balanced-scoring effort (7 points each from P.J. Tucker and Westbrook plus 6 points from Harden) and defense to outscore Dallas 26-16 in the final 8 plus minutes to trail 105-95 at the end of the third quarter.
The Rockets inched within 5 points three times in the fourth quarter; but, Harden missed a three-point shot attempt then Westbrook missed a driving layup.
The Mavs went on a 23-4 run during the next 4 minutes, 46 seconds to put the game away.
"We allowed them (Dallas Mavericks) to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game," said Harden. "When you give a team like that comfort and the ability to do whatever they want, they gain confidence and that's what they did."
Harden finished the game with 32 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds.
The star of today's game was Luka Doncic. Doncic had 41 points and 10 assists tonight. It is his second time scoring 40+ points over the past four games (42 with 12 assists vs. San Antonio on November 18) after not doing so once prior in his career.
"He's just a great basketball player," D'Antoni commented of Doncic. "He was great in Europe at age 16 or 17. He was great and to be that good that early in Europe is not easy. He's just shown that he's a great basketball player. He knows how to play he's got a big body. He's strong. He shoots threes (and) he's got a good step back, he's got everything. You can see he loves to play. He's got a great future that's for sure."
Houston's next game is Wednesday, November 27, versus the Miami Heat. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
Doncic's two 40-point/10-assist games this season already ties him for the most a player not named James Harden or Russell Westbrook has had a season since Dwyane Wade recorded three in 2008-09 (Harden: 9 40-point/10-assist games in 2018-19, 8 in 2016-17, 5 in 2015-16 and 3 in 2017-18; Westbrook: 9 in 2016-17 and 4 in 2014-15).
Clint Capela had 21 points and a season-high 22 rebounds today. It is his second 20/20 game of the season (11/18 vs. Portland) and the sixth of his career. Capela has grabbed 20+ boards in six of his past seven games played after doing so seven times prior in his career.
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