Extra Pass: Mavs-Rockets tilt comes on the heels of Luka's historic performance

Published December 29, 2022, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

After getting a 60-21-10 line from Luka Doncic yesterday, the Mavericks take on their interstate rivals tomorrow.


What's up with the Dallas Mavericks?

In case you were offline yesterday, first of all, congratulations on having a life outside the dark screen we all carry. Second, you missed one of the best performances in NBA history.

The Mavericks were down by nine points with 35 seconds left against the New York Knicks. Somehow, they made a few miraculous 3-pointers and got a few breaks from the Knicks’ free throw shooting. Luka Doncic conjured the shot above off his own missed free throw to tie the game and send it overtime.

That was just the preamble to a special conclusion. Doncic continued to roll in overtime, eventually leading the Mavs to a win and finishing the game with 60 points, 21 rebounds, and 10 assists. This was the first time any player has recorded such a statline. He was also the first Maverick to ever score 60 points.

It's one thing to set a record in the NBA. It’s another to do something that the mythic Wilt Chamberlain had never done.

Perhaps it is a blessing that the Mavericks do not have a lot of star power outside of Luka. It’s in the most adverse times that the game’s superstars create moments like yesterday’s. Kobe Bryant had 81 points because the Los Angeles Lakers were not very good in 2006. LeBron James clobbered the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals because the Cleveland Cavaliers’ second-best player was Zydrunas Ilgauskas. 

With this season’s Mavs, Luka has mostly gotten scoring help from Spencer Dinwiddie, Christian Wood, and Tim Hardaway Jr. – solid rotation players, but not exactly All-Stars. The Mavs are filled with this type of player. You know it’s rough when you’re counting on Davis Bertans in crucial minutes.

This environment has allowed Luka all the room to have his 2005-2007 Kobe Bryant era. Expect more uncommon events from Luka this season.

What’s up with the Houston Rockets?

If there ever was a time to watch the Rockets this season, it’s this particular stretch. They are still in full rebuild mode but their young players are starting to figure things out a little. At least they’ve been good enough to keep things spicy and pull off a few upsets.

Our kababayan Jalen Green has been moving differently recently. He’s making necessary strides in his offensive game and has added some counters for how a lot of teams defend him. He’s slithery and explosive with the ball in his hands. Over Houston’s last four games, Green is hitting 47.9 percent of his shots and is dropping 24.0 points per game. 

Kevin Porter Jr. has also had his moments. Has he solidified his spot as Houston’s long-term point guard? Probably not yet but he’s been solid enough to justify the extension he received in the offseason. He’s averaging 19.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. The turnovers and spotty decision-making are still there but he’s genuinely steered away from a lot of routine mistakes he used to make.

You also have guys like Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun – two other projects who have looked awesome when they have their mojo going this season. Overall, Houston is a fun young team. They’re at the stage when fans are just happy they can put a scare in contenders and are not yet pressured into improving their record.

Where to watch?

Good sequels are hard to come by but if anyone can do it it’s our favorite Top Gun: Maverick, Luka. They just beat the Rockets two weeks ago but that doesn't mean the Mavs won’t need Luka to enter the Avatar State again tomorrow.

Catch the game live tomorrow on NBA League Pass at 9:30 AM.