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Kristaps Porzingis Exits; Luka Doncic's Mavs Beat Rockets

The Dallas Mavericks protect home court in their first home game of the season.

DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks want to establish a true home-court advantage at American Airlines Center this season.

So far, so good.

Looking to start the season right in their home-opener, the Mavs beat the Houston Rockets, 116-106 on Tuesday. The victory over the in-state rivals is big for Dallas, as the Mavs have not won a season series against the Rockets since 2012-13. 

Star Luka Doncic recorded his third (in three games) double-double of the season against the Rockets. Doncic did it all, even recording a sky-high block. His impressive stat line: 26 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic smiled as he attempted to quiet the crowd a few times to give a pregame message. 

"Let me talk, let me talk,'' he said into the microphone. "Welcome everybody back to the building. We're really excited to have you back. Go Mavs."

Kristaps Porzingis, with the team citing low back tightness, left the game in the third quarter and did not return. He finished the game with nine points, three rebounds and and assist in 20 minutes. 

"He's fine,'' said new coach Jason Kidd. "We just held him so we'll see how he feels tomorrow.''

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Analyst and Hall of Famer guard Reggie Miller, working on the TNT, says during the game that Doncic was "plodding up and down the court" and "has got to trim down."

The Mavs bench provided needed energy from the jump, with much thanks to Boban Marjanovic. Every "Bobi" bucket sent the crowd into a gleeful buzz - a crowd that included Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. 

Said Boban: “I really get goosebumps. I really appreciate everyone cheering for me. I really love it. They make me proud because I come from a small town and I hear all the fans here when I used to have no fans. This is a dream come true and I am living my dream right now. I feel so special.”

Through the first half, the Mavs only shot 28 percent from three. The Mavs found themselves in a 60-57 hole. Marjanovic and Reggie Bullock provided a big boost off the bench, adding 11 and 16 points, respectively. Jalen Brunson tied his career-high with 11 assists while also adding 11 points. 

The Mavs were able to contain the 2021 second-overall pick Jalen Green. The Rockets rookie - playing for head coach Stephen Silas, the former Mavs assistant - dropped 30 points on the Boston Celtics on Sunday night. Green finished with only 10 points. Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 22 points.

Dallas rattled off a 13-0 run to start the third quarter. The Rockets would not go away but clutch three-pointers from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Brunson kept the Mavs out front. 

The victory came in front of the first sellout crowd inside AAC for a Mavs’ home opener since 2019. Last year the COVID-19 restrictions prohibited fans from being in attendance at the Mavs’ home opener. (Here is the latest COVID Policy for Mavs fans.)

This triumph is a step in the right direction towards a trend Dallas is looking to reverse: Over the past five seasons, the Mavs are only 100-93 at home for a 51.8-percent winning number. 

And it so happened here, interestingly, that all 15 Dallas players on the active roster participated. Kidd said that was the result of a morning meeting with the team's leaders.

"Kind of cool on opening night that 15 guys played,'' said Kidd, who will oversee the Mavericks as they next host the San Antonio Spurs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. "This came to me this morning through the council that we have. Those players that I talked to felt this was a great idea, so I was with it."