Houston Rockets looked to end their four-game home losing streak as they took on their I-45 rivals, the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets were facing off against the Mavericks for the second time this season after taking the first game 101-92 as they blocked 19 shots, the most in almost 40 years.
The Rockets came out fast as they started the game 9/16 from the field and held an 18-15 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter. Luka and the Mavs would slowly take over the quarter as Doncic started to control the game as the Mavs finished the quarter on a 15 to 6 run and led 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. Doncic led all scores with 14 going into the second quarter.
The second quarter didn't start much better for the Rockets as the lineup of Nix, Mathews, Eason, Smith, and Garuba struggled to start the quarter. So much so that Coach Silas brought in Ty Ty Washinton and Josh Christopher for some of their earliest minutes of the season. Dallas seemed to make a conscious effort to run the Rockets off the 3-point line, as the Rockets were only 2-8 at the end of the second quarter. They trailed 61-50 as Luka Doncic led all scores with 18.
Rockets started the quarter on a 7-0 run and cut the lead down to four, 62-58. KJ Martin knocked down two shots from deep to start the quarter, and the Rockets continued one of their best third-quarter starts in several games as they got within one point after Martin Jr's 3-pointer. As the quarter went on, the lead went back and forth throughout.
Green took more ball-handling duties in the quarter as Porter Jr. played more off the ball. This led to multiple open shots for Porter Jr., and the offense seemed to move faster. The Rockets only made two shots beyond the arch in the first two quarters but made three in the third. The Rockets had one of their best third quarters in a while, outscoring the Mavs 34-20 in the third quarter.
The lead again bounced back and forth as the Rockets staggered Porter Jr and Green while keeping Washington on the court playing his most important minutes of the season. The Mavericks went on a mini-run and took a 105-97 lead after Doncic nailed a 28-foot 3-pointer. The Rockets, however, were not done as they scored five straight points to cut the lead down to 105-102 as Smith nailed a 3-pointer at the top of the key after some great ball movement.
The Rockets were within two coming down on a fastbreak, and Porter Jr was called for an offensive foul with 1:12 seconds left. The Rockets had a chance late to tie the game possible, but former Rocket Christian Wood came up with a big offensive rebound. Donic did what Doncic always does: come up big in big situations, nailing a 3-pointer to put the game away. Doncic finished with 50 points as he showed why he is an MVP candidate year in and year out. Doncic also had ten assists and eight rebounds.
Jabari Smith led the Rockets with 24 points which are a career-high. Smith also had ten rebounds and guarded Doncic for most of the game. Smith played aggressively throughout the fourth quarter and helped the Rockets climb back into the game late before Luka shut the door. Rockets had some good moments in the second half despite the loss. More ball movement, Green controlled the offense more, and the Rockets played with a lot more pace. Hopefully, they can carry it over to their next game vs. the Chicago Bulls.
The Rockets seven-game home stand ends with a 2-5 record and five straight losses. The Rockets now head out on a three-game road trip before ending 2022 on New Years' Eve vs. the New York Knicks.