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 the victory.
“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 have 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.”
Clippers 134, Pelicans 109: LOS ANGELES — Montrezl Harrell tied a career-high with 34 points and had 12 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and Los Angeles beat New Orleans for its fifth straight victory. 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. Jrue Holiday scored 18 points, and E’Twaun Moore had 17.
Nets 103, Knicks 101: NEW YORK — Spencer Dinwiddie scored 30 points in another strong start in place of the injured Kyrie Irving and Brooklyn beat New York for its season-high third straight victory. Irving continues to rest an injured right shoulder, and Dinwiddie is making sure they get by without him, scoring 20 or more points in a career-best five straight games after stepping into the starting lineup. He was 13 of 14 from the foul line, where the Nets had a whopping 27-9 advantage in makes.
Nuggets 116, Suns 104: DENVER — Paul Millsap scored 23 points and Jamal Murray and Will Barton had 22 apiece in Denver’s victory over Phoenix. Nikola Jokic had just eight points, but grabbed 13 rebounds to help Denver win its fifth in a row. The Nuggets held Phoenix guard Devin Booker to a season-low 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Booker came in averaging 26.2 points in November.
Kings 113, Wizards 106: WASHINGTON — Harrison Barnes matched his season high with 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Sacramento beat Washington. Buddy Hield added 18 points, including a late 3-pointer that put Sacramento’s lead at multiple possessions for good, and Richaun Holmes had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Kings won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve to 7-8. Bradley Beal led Washington with 20 points, ending his string of 30 or more at a career-best five games.