HOUSTON (AP)Tim Hardaway Jr. had 19 points and seven assists to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 130-106 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
Dallas was without Luka Doncic, who was sidelined with a right ankle sprain, and Kristaps Porzingis, who missed his fourth straight game in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Mavericks were also without coach Jason Kidd, who entered the health and safety protocols on Friday – becoming the 13th NBA coach to do that.
Assistant coach Sean Sweeney stepped in to take his place.
”Our team has caught the worst of it, I would say,” Hardaway said in regard to the latest wave of COVID-related absences. ”But coach Kidd always says, `Next man up.’ Coach Sweeney came in and had a great game plan, and we stuck with it, played hard and came up with a win.”
Reggie Bullock started for Doncic, putting up 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Josh Green had 17 points, and Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson each had 15 points for Dallas.
”I thought we did a great job in terms of executing and playing unselfishly, offensively,” Sweeney said. ”Coach Kidd has been emphasizing that the whole season, and we’ve been picking that up as of late.”
Dallas had 34 assists in the game, doubling Houston’s 17 en route to their fifth straight win. The team is 6-9 without Doncic this season, compared with 15-9 when he plays.
Christian Wood led Houston with 20 points, and Jae’Sean Tate and Garrison Mathews both had 15. Jalen Green had 12 points, and Kevin Porter Jr. added 11 points.
The Mavericks got off to a hot start, scoring a season-high 43 first-quarter points to enter the second quarter with a 20-point lead. Dallas also had a season-high 80 first-half points and led 80-60 at the break.
After a 114-111 win in Washington snapped Houston’s eight-game losing streak, the Rockets struggled defensively, allowing Dallas to shoot 54.4% from the field.
”They were picking us apart,” Mathews said. ”That’s got to be where we’re playing the hardest is on the defensive end. We’re a young team. They scored, what, 80 points in the first half? That’s inexcusable. We need to play a lot better.”
Rockets coach Stephen Silas said he thought energy was a factor in the Rockets’ defensive struggles.
”Quite a bit,” Silas said. ”We were a step slow, a step late on everything.”
Dallas fell just shy of its season high of 19 3s, making 17 3-pointers on 38 attempts (44.7%). Hardaway and Bullock both hit five 3s in less than 25 minutes of playing time.
SWEENEY’S FIRST WIN
A rowdy postgame celebration could be heard from inside the Dallas locker room. Sweeney, who picked up a win in his coaching debut, was asked if he was doused with cold water.
”I can neither confirm nor deny that, but I am a little colder than I was 10 minutes ago,” he told reporters.
The Rockets honored longtime play-by-play announcer Bill Worrell with a halftime ceremony that included Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon, Calvin Murphy, Elvin Hayes and Rudy Tomjanovich. Worrell retired last May after 40 years of broadcasting.
Mavericks: Doncic participated in a pre-game shootaround workout and sat on the bench during the game. . C Boban Marjanovic remained in the health and safety protocols for a sixth straight game.
Rockets: C Alperen Sengun missed a fourth straight game with a right ankle sprain. Sengun could be out for another week, coach Stephen Silas said. . Usman Garuba (health and safety protocols) was out. . Armoni Brooks returned from the health and safety protocols, scoring seven points in 15 minutes.
Mavericks: Host Chicago on Sunday.
Rockets: Host Minnesota on Sunday.
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