The Dallas Mavericks won their 25th home game of the season Wednesday night, defeating the Houston Rockets 110-91. Jalen Brunson led the Mavericks with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting including eight free throws. Alperen Sengun led Houston from the bench with 14 points.
Things started a bit slow for Dallas, with the Mavericks playing down to their competition for a significant chunk of the quarter. The Mavericks took the lead on a Dorian Finney-Smith lay-up at the 2:40 mark and held on the rest of the frame. Dallas carried a 25-21 lead after twelve minutes. The Rockets kept things close in the second quarter and retook the lead in the second quarter as the Mavericks couldn’t find any sustained defense or offense. Houston went into the half up, leading 53-52.
The third quarter was a turning point for Dallas, with their superior team play overcoming the frenetic energy of Houston. Jalen Brunson scored 16 in the quarter and Dallas found themselves up ahead 82-72 by the end. The Mavericks opened up the fourth on another double digit run and the game was effectively over minutes into the fourth. Dallas kept their big lead and walked away with a 110-91 lead.
Now, a few more thoughts:
Dallas winning games they’re supposed to is really, really nice
The Rockets are a team that’s ready for the season to be over, and while they put up a good fight in the first half, Dallas ended their hopes early in the second half. There’s not a ton to take away from this game, past some pleasing performances from Jalen Brunson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Frank Ntilikina.
Last season’s Mavericks had a truly awful record against the worst teams in the league whereas this team, particularly since the turn over the New Year, has taken care of business more often than not. It’s pleasing and frankly calming to the point of being boring with these games they should win and they come in and take care of business. There are more meaningful games down the line, but for now we’ll take this win and get ready for Friday.
The Dallas guards attacking wears out defenses
Even without Luka, the Mavericks attacked the paint and it resulted in both Jalen Brunson (28 points) and Spencer Dinwidie (26 points) getting great looks throughout the game. The Mavericks showing consistent ability to pressure the rim is important as we move towards the playoffs. Seeing Brunson get to the line was particularly rewarding as he’s looked a bit unsure of his role in recent games. Hopefully this game provides him some confidence moving forward.
The Mavericks control their destiny
On Friday, Dallas plays the Timberwolves and a win would help end the Wolves bid to move up in the standings. On Sunday, Dallas plays the Utah Jazz, the team they’re tied with in the West (but Utah owns the tiebreaker). Winning both of these games would be nothing short of enormous with so few games left in the regular season.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.