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Mar 30, 2024 4:07 pm

Mavericks, Rockets meet in battle of NBA’s hottest teams

Jalen Green

Jalen Green continues to rise to the occasion for the Houston Rockets, who carry an 11-game winning streak into their matchup against the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

The Rockets (38-35) are one game behind the Golden State Warriors in the race for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference, while Dallas (44-29) holds the sixth seed. The Mavericks have won six straight and 10 of their past 11.

Green has scored 30 or more points five times in his past eight games, including 34 points in Houston’s 101-100 road victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.

Green had just four points in the first half against Utah before scoring 20 in the third quarter.

“Just keep telling him, keep taking the shots, even when they’re not falling,” Rockets guard Fred VanVleet said. “He’s been carrying us pretty much since the All-Star break. We trust him. We give him the ball in his spots and let him create. He can get hot.

“It wasn’t pretty. He’s getting a lot more attention as of late. He’s been on a heater. But he stayed aggressive and gave us a big boost in the third quarter.”

Houston also received a spark from forward Amen Thompson, who finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Thompson continues to impress while starting in place of injured forward Alperen Sengun.

Rockets coach Ime Udoka raved about Thompson after the rookie recorded a career-high eight offensive rebounds against Utah.

“Regardless of how it looks out there, he always ends up with a high double-double,” Udoka said. “Guarding (Collin) Sexton and some of their best guards and impacting the game on offense in other ways. It’s what we’re seeing from him on a daily, game-to-game basis.”

Houston and Dallas have split their two meetings this season, including a 122-96 win by the Rockets in Houston on Dec. 22.

The Mavericks have added big men Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington to their roster since that last meeting, and both are creating new problems for opponents. The pair combined for five blocked shots in a 107-103 road win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday.

“Making those trades was definitely a step in the right direction for them,” Sacramento coach Mike Brown said. “And a lot of it has to come down to they’re bigger, more athletic, longer. And they’re two pretty good basketball players that fit the way that they want to play.”

Dallas has been receiving contributions throughout its lineup during its current surge. On Friday, it was Dante Exum’s turn as the veteran guard hit a 3-pointer with 27.5 seconds remaining to help secure the Mavericks’ critical win.

Kyrie Irving paced Dallas with 30 points against the Kings, while Luka Doncic added 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

“We’re very happy that we’ve got two of the best in the world, to not just be shot-makers, but to create shots for others,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.

“They’re two great quarterbacks who are very unselfish. They understand the moment, the time and what needs to be done.”

–Field Level Media

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