DALLAS (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 28 points and Spencer Dinwiddie rested 26 pairs on Luka Doncic’s right ankle, and the Dallas Mavericks overwhelmed the Houston Rockets in the second half for a 110-91 victory Wednesday night.
The victory for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs drew Dallas to a 45–28 draw with Utah. The Jazz, who lost 125–97 in Boston, currently holds the tiebreaker on the Mavericks. They play in Dallas on Sundays.
Rookie Alpern Sengun had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Christian Wood scored 12 points with 10 boards in his 11th consecutive road loss for the Rockets, who have the worst record in the NBA at 18-55.
Dinwiddie had 19 points at the start of the second quarter, and Brunson scored 16 in the third as the Mavericks quickly went on for good after trailing 53-52 at halftime. Dallas beat Houston 58-38 in the second half.
The previous game Doncic missed, at the time due to leg pain, marked Dinwiddie’s first start with the Mavericks since coming into the trade from Washington, who sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards.
Dinwiddie had a Dallas (and season) high of 36 in a 114–113 victory over Sacramento on March 5. He and Brunson were the starting backcourt pairings again with the Mavericks, who needed to keep pace in a tight West playoff race against an unrivaled opponent.
“I think Spencer and I have felt comfortable since we’re here,” Brunson said. “As soon as he was put into the lineup, it just slowed down. Credit to him for being a great teammate to be here and just wanting to win.”
The Mavericks won the season series (4–0) over the Rockets for the first time after consecutive seasons in 2010–11 and 2011–12. They were the final two seasons as a player for first-year coach Jason Kidd in Dallas, who was celebrating his 49th birthday.
The Rockets shot just 29% in the second half and were 4 for 28 (14%) from 3-point range for the game.
“They make it harder for you to take good shots,” said Houston coach Stephen Silas. “We have to learn how to make good shots with our pace, with our actions, with our difference against a good defensive team. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Dorian Finney-Smith’s first 3-pointer gave the Mavericks their first double-digit lead at 77-66 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Finney-Smith scored 14 points.
Dallas first scored 13–3 to start the fourth quarter for a 20-point lead.
“We talked about energy,” Kidd said. “At halftime, we talked about communication, was a little quiet. A lot of times Luke would build that energy to shoot the ball or make a play. We had to find that. We did a good job on both ends in the second half “
Rockets: F Anthony Lamb signed a two-way contract, but will remain with Rio Grande Valley in the G-League for now. Lamb played 24 matches for the Rockets last season. … The Rockets lost all four games against Dallas by double digits. … J’Sean Tate scored 13 points.
Mavericks: F Davies Burtons missed his second straight game with a pain in his right knee. … The Mavericks have won four straight games in a Houston series for the first time since 2010–13 with a series-best of nine wins.
Rockets: First game in a row in back-to-back nights on Friday in Portland. A win from the Trail Blazers would give them a season four for the fourth year in a row.
The Mavericks: In Minnesota on Friday, four nights after the Mavericks organized for a 110-108 win over the Timberwolves in Dallas. The Mavericks can win the season series with a win.
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