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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, 125-107, ending 11-game win streak

POSTED: March 31, 2024 -- 11:25 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets' 11-game winning streak ended Sunday night with a thud as the Dallas Mavericks led by Luka Doncic defeated the Rockets 125-107.

Houston (38-36) finishes March with a 13-2 record in the month.

Doncic set the tone early and often with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the first quarter. IN THE FIRST QUARTER! He finished the game with 47 points.

"We wanted to guard him one-on-one and force him to tougher shots," Ime Udoka, Rockets Head Coach, said of the Rockets' defensive strategy against Luka. "That was the objective."

"But, I think, we were kind of back on our heels and made it a little too easy early."

Doncic's 22 first-quarter points almost equaled the Rockets' 24 points as Houston trailed 36-24 after 12 minutes.

The Mavs made 8 of 11 three-point attempts in the opening quarter compared to the Rockets' 4 for 11 three-point shooting.

Dallas (45-29) continued its scalding-hot three-point shooting into the second quarter. Doncic (5/8), forward P.J. Washington (3/4) and guard Dante Exum (3/3) combined to make all 11 of Dallas' threes -- out of 15 attempts. Dallas, as a team, made 11 of 18, in the first 21 minutes of the game.

Houston trailed Dallas by 21 (66-45) at halftime. Doncic finished the first half with 32 points (12 for 18 shooting - including 6 for 10 threes), 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Dallas shot 13 for 24 from three in the first half compared to Houston's ice-cold 4 for 17 three-point shooting.

Dillon Brooks (zero) and Fred VanVleet (1) combined to score 1 point in the first half.

Doncic continued his sensational performance into the third quarter with 15 more points including a ridiculous 21-foot right-handed flip shot which put the Mavs on top 72-47 with 10:43 left in the third quarter.

Houston outscored Dallas 13-4 in the final 3:10 of the third period to trail by 18 (91-73) after three quarters. Fred VanVleet scored 9 points in the third on 3-for-3 three-point shooting.

Kyrie Irving took over for Doncic in the fourth quarter. Irving scored 15 points in the fourth to help boost the Mavs' lead to as much as 28 (111-83) in the final stanza.

The Rockets made a prideful run to get within 15 points twice; but, Houston did not get closer than 15 as the Rockets' winning streak came to an end.

Luka finished the game with 47 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, marking his 14th double-double over the past 16 games and his 45th of the season.

Jabari Smith Jr. led Houston with 28 points while hitting a career-high tying 5 3-pointers. It is his 12th 20-point game of the season, matching his total as a rookie in 2022-23.

With Sunday's loss to the Mavs combined with the Golden State Warriors' 117-113 road win over the Spurs, the Rockets are now 2 games behind the Warriors for the final spot in NBA Play-In.

"Season not over, so just keep playing," Smith said after the game. "We lost this one. Just put it behind us. It isn't going to get any easier from here. We got to go to a tough environment in Minnesota; so, got to put it behind us and get ready for the next one."


The Mavs hit a Rockets opponent season-high 24 3-pointers on 51.1% shooting after having a total of 19 3FGM on 25.7% shooting in the first two meetings.

Houston entered tonight ranked first in the NBA in 3-point defense (opponents: 34.5%) but falls to 2-17 when allowing the opposition to hit 15 or more three-point field goals in a game this season.


The Rockets' next game is Tuesday, April 2, on the road, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Central Time.

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