HOUSTON – Dallas coach Rick Carlisle didn’t want his team to get overexcited about its convincing victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
He was, however, quick to note the importance of it.
“This is a big win. There’s no question about that,” Carlisle said. “You come in here, this is a big-time place to play and you’re playing against great players. So our guys deserve credit but this is a process and it’s day by day and week by week and we’ve got to continue to go for daily improvement.”
Luka Doncic scored 41 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. added a season-high 31 and the Mavericks never trailed in the 137-123 romp.
The Mavericks scored 45 points in the first quarter and were up 78-60 at halftime. Hardaway had 19 in the half, Doncic 17 and Kristaps Porzingis 15.
“That first quarter killed us,” Houston’s P.J. Tucker said.
James Harden was asked what Houston did wrong defensively.
“Everything,” he said. “We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game and when you give a team like that comfort . . . they gain confidence. And that’s what they did.”
The Mavericks has won five straight, scoring at least 137 in the last three. Houston has lost three straight after winning eight in a row.
Dallas knew that the Rockets had a quick turnaround after playing a game in Los Angeles on Friday night and focused on getting off to a good start.
“It was important,” Hardaway said. “We wanted to make sure we came out of the gate with some firepower, some energy.”
The Mavericks got a dunk from Dwight Powell to push the lead to 11 early in the fourth quarter. Houston used a 6-0 run after that shot to get to 110-105 with 9 minutes to go.
Doncic ended the run with a jump shot, but Russell Westbrook added a basket seconds later to cut it to five again.
Dallas was still up by 5 later in the quarter before scoring the next five points, with a dunk from Hardaway, to make it 119-109 midway through period, and Houston didn’t get close again.
Kings 113, Wizards 106
In Washington, Rui Hachimura was held to seven points on 2-of-7 shooting and grabbed four rebounds as the Wizards missed out on their third straight win.
Harrison Barnes matched his season high with 26 points for Sacramento and Bojan Bogdanovic had 21.
Buddy Hield added 18 points, including a late 3-pointer that helped put the Kings ahead to stay.
Sacramento won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve to 7-8. Washington is 5-9.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 20 points, ending his string of 30 or more at a career-best five games.
Clippers 134, Pelicans 109
In Los Angeles, Montrezl Harrell tied a career-high with 34 points and had 12 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and the Clippers won their fifth straight.
Lou Williams added 19 points and Paul George had 18. The Clippers had 16 3-pointers with George making six.
Brandon Ingram, one of three Lakers players involved in the Anthony Davis trade, led New Orleans with 24 points and eight rebounds in his first game back at Staples Center.
In Other Games
Nets 103, Knicks 101
Nuggets 116, Suns 104