HOUSTON (AP) — Luka Doncic scored a season-high 50 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks held on to beat the Houston Rockets 112-106 on Friday night.
Doncic, who also had 10 assists and eight rebounds, was 17 of 30 from the field, including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers. It was Doncic’s second career 50-point game.
“Sometimes you know you’re going to make more shots than usual,” Doncic said. “When you feel hot, you feel like everything will go in.”
He scored a career-high 51 against the Clippers on Feb. 10, 2022.
Dallas coach Jason Kidd called Doncic’s 50 points “a great Christmas gift on a long road trip.”
“Luka is Luka,” Kidd said. “He’s the best player in the world. He showed that tonight, carrying the load offensively. … I don’t know what else to say about him. He was incredible tonight.”
Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans each scored 11 points for Dallas, which shot 45% and made 16 of 44 3s.
Jabari Smith Jr. finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Jalen Green added 23 points and eight rebounds, and Alperen Sengun had 19 points and eight rebounds for Houston, which lost its fifth straight.
“Just coming in and trying to get back on track, get back to playing well,” Smith said. “Our record’s not well, but we know when we play good and we know when we play bad. These last couple games we feel like we haven’t played like us, so the focus was getting back to us and playing how we play.”
Kevin Porter Jr. scored 14 points, and Kenyon Martin Jr. had 10 for the Rockets, who shot 46%.
Houston coach Stephen Silas said Houston’s defensive game plan was good, but there was “just too much Luka.”
“I’m not sure that he made an easy shot,” Silas said. “We made every shot hard, and that’s the greatness of a great player. … That’s what Luka does.”
Tied at 94 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, the Mavs used an 11-3 run to open up an eight-point lead on a 3-pointer by Doncic, who blew a kiss to the crowd. The Rockets responded with seven straight points to cut the lead to 105-104 on Sengun’s layup with 3:13 left.
After Bertans hit a 3 to up the lead to four, Smith cut the lead to two with a jumper with a 1 ½ minutes remaining. The two teams traded turnovers and missed shots before Doncic nailed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to give the Mavs a five-point lead.
“We swing the ball, and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) redrives it from the corner and finds Luka wide open,” Kidd said of Doncic’s 3 to seal the win. “Luka does the rest. When you’re hot like that, sometimes you don’t have to move the ball. Someone else did all the work for him, and the ball found him.”
Houston erased a 16-point, second-quarter deficit, outscoring the Mavs 33-15 over a nine-minute span of the second and third quarters to take a 69-67 lead on a 3-pointer by Smith with 6:15 remaining in the third.
Mavericks: Dorian Finney-Smith missed his second straight game with a right adductor strain. … Kemba Walker was out of the lineup Friday night due to left knee injury recovery. … Reggie Bullock left the game in the third quarter with a neck strain.
Rockets: Garrison Mathews (illness) returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the last three games. He was scoreless in 12 minutes. … Jae’Sean Tate (ankle) could return soon, Silas said. “I don’t have a timetable, days or whatever, but it looks like it’s getting closer to days than weeks,” Silas said. … Eric Gordon was out of the lineup Friday with a bruised left thumb.