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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets lose to Luka and the Mavs 111-106

POSTED: January 3, 2023 -- 8:47 a.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets did a lot of things well Monday night but not enough to top the Dallas Mavericks as the Rockets lost 111-106 to Luka Doncic and the Mavs.

"We did a lot of good things," Rockets Head Coach Stephen Silas said after the game. "So, we gotta just build on those."

Doncic had 39 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists for his 19th double-double of the season. Doncic scored 29 of his 39 in the second half to erase the Rockets' 18 point lead.

The Rockets (10-17) were clicking on offense - especially in the first quarter. Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green each scored 6 points in the first quarter. Sengun added 3 assists and 4 rebounds in the first quarter. The Rockets utilized great ball movement and great player movement to tally six assists (11 baskets) in the opening quarter.

Houston led 26-18 after 12 minutes despite making just 1 of 7 from three-point range. Kevin Porter Jr and Eric Gordon heated up in the second quarter. Both scored 11 points and combined to shoot 8 for 11 from the floor in the period. The Rockets shot 56.2% (9 for 16) from the floor in the quarter.

Former Rockets' big man Christian Wood scored 10 points (4 for 6 fgs - 2 for 3 threes) in the quarter to keep Dallas close. Houston outscored Dallas 29-26 in the second quarter and led 55-44 at halftime.

Jabari Smith Jr made a three-pointer to open the third quarter. Jalen Green followed with a 3-point basket. Houston led 61-44 with 11:04 left in the third quarter. The Rockets led by 18 three times in the third. Then, Luka got going on offense.

Doncic scored 10 of the Mavs' next 15 points to trim Houston's lead to 11 (76-65) with 4:53 left in the third. Houston led 83-73 with 2:30 remaining; but, the Mavs finished the quarter with a 10-4 run. Doncic scored of 5 of the 10 points.

Houston led 87-83 after three quarters. The Mavs took a 90-89 lead in the fourth quarter on a driving layup by guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Houston responded with an 11-3 burst to lead 100-93 with 5:52 left on the game clock. Alperen Sengun scored 6 of the 11 points.

Doncic hit a three-pointer. Jabari Smith Jr answered with a strong finish at the rim. Mavs forward Reggie Bullock swished a three to trim the Rockets' lead to 102-99. Sengun made 2 free throws. Then, with 4:23 on the clock, Sengun was called for a foul on a Christian Wood three-point attempt. Wood made the shot and the free throw to cut Houston's lead to 104-103.

After Jalen Green missed a jumper in the paint and Sengun committed a turnover, Doncic made 2 free throws for a 105-104 Mavs' lead with 3:33 on the clock. Eric Gordon committed a turnover before Dallas' Tim Hardaway Jr scored a layup (assist from Doncic).

Kevin Porter Jr scored a layup to bring the Rockets within 107-106. Christian Wood missed two 3-point attempts. KJ Martin committed a turnover -- Houston's third turnover in two-minutes, 38 seconds -- then, Doncic missed a 19-foot fadeaway jumper with 43.1 seconds on the clock.

Houston pushed the ball up the court. Jabari Smith Jr launched a three-pointer that clanged off the backboard. The Mavs got the defensive rebound and Dinwiddie scored a stepback jumper for a 109-106 lead with 10.5 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Sengun was fouled and went to the line for 2. He missed both free throws and Doncic sealed the game making 2 foul shots with 1.5 remaining.

Doncic shot 18 for 22 from the foul line, tying his career-highs for both free throws made and free throws attempted.

"Luka ended with 22 free throws," Kevin Porter Jr. said after the game. "That's pretty much the game right there."

"The issue was the fouls," Coach Silas remarked. "I don't have enough money to get fined...So, I'll just stop there."

Houston had a season-low 10 turnovers after committing 25 vs. New York on December 31.

Kevin Porter Jr. finished the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals while shooting 11 for 20 from the floor.

Jalen Green added 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 2 for 5 from 3-point range.


The Rockets' next game is Wednesday, January 4, on the road, against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.


Eric Gordon had 19 points on 7 for 12 shooting, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range which ties for his second-highest point total of the season (24 vs. Indiana on November 18). Over the past two games, Gordon is shooting 6 for 10 from three-point range after shooting 5 for 17 his previous four games played.

Christian Wood had 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 blocks and 3 three-point field goals made per game. Wood is the third different Maverick to have posted those numbers in a single game, joining Dirk Nowitzki and Kristaps Porzingis (3 times).

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