Tired Mavs lose to Houston

Tired Mavs lose to Houston

HOUSTON – A day after a big win with a comeback against Portland, Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks lost to the Houston Rockets 120-104. James Harden scored 11 points in the final 2:32 and ended with 31 points – he increased his historic streak of 30-plus point games to 30.

Dončić scored a double-double. He had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists and he admitted the season is wearing on him. “It’s a little bit,” said Dončić. “It’s different from in Europe, a tough season. I had a long season last year, so, yeah, it’s getting a little bit tougher.” Plus, this was a tough back-to-back. Dončić played the entire fourth quarter against Portland. “I mean, it’s back-to-back. They’re always hard. But not always do you have a comeback (the previous night), so it was just that much harder.”

The Mavericks and the Rockets have learned a few things about defending step-back shots from Harden and Dončić. Harden only made 6 of his 17 3-point attempts, while Dončić went 2 for 9. “The signature shot is always the defining trait of a player,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Harden and Luka both have step-back shot and the one you think of most. There’s a similarity there. Harden’s been around a lot longer and in no way am I saying they are the same player or anything like that. But there is some similarity, for sure.”

Dončić is averaging 20.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in his rookie season as a 19-year-old. Harden was 20 when he came to the NBA and averaged 9.9 points in his first and 12.2 points in his second season.

Mavs’s last game before the All-Star break is against Miami at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.