HOUSTON – The Dallas Mavericks struggled against the Houston Rockets on Friday. This was the first game without Luka Dončić, who sprained his right ankle in Thursday’s practice. The Rockets won 128-121. The Mavericks fell to 29-19 and are currently sixth in the Western Conference.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavs with 35 points and 12 rebounds. James Harden scored 35 points and 16 rebounds for Houston. Russell Westbrook added 32 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

The Mavs have a back-to-back game on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Dončić will miss at least the next five games, but coach Rick Carlisle remains hopeful that he will be fit for the All-Star Weekend. “It’s unlucky,” Carlisle said. “But it’s the NBA schedule. And this is just how it is. We got to find ways to make it into a positive somehow. It’s not easy because of the kind of player he is.”

“My personal feeling – not based on anything medical, not based on anything doctors or trainers are telling me – I believe he’s going to be OK by the time All-Star Weekend rolls around. It’s just my feeling that he’ll be able to participate at some level on those events,” said Carlisle.

Dončić is scheduled to play in both the All-Star game as a starter and in the Rising Stars Game.