HOUSTON — Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle didn’t want his team to get overexcited about its convincing victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

He was, however, quick to note the importance of the victory.

“This is a big win. There’s no question about that,” Carlisle said. “You come in here, this is a big-time place to play and you’re playing against great players. So our guys deserve credit, but this is a process and it’s day by day and week by week, and we’ve got to continue to go for daily improvement.”

Luka Doncic scored 41 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. added a season-high 31, and the Mavericks never trailed in the 137-123 romp.

The Mavericks scored 45 points in the first quarter and were up 78-60 at halftime.

“That first quarter killed us,” Houston’s P.J. Tucker said.

James Harden was asked what Houston did wrong defensively.

“Everything,” he said. “We allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do from the beginning of the game, and when you give a team like that comfort … they gain confidence. And that’s what they did.”

The Mavericks have won five straight, scoring at least 137 in the last three. Houston has lost three straight after winning eight in a row.

Doncic has had at least 30 points and 10 assists in each of the last four games.

Dallas knew that the Rockets had a quick turnaround after playing a game in Los Angeles on Friday night and focused on getting off to a good start.

“It was important,” Hardaway said. “We wanted to make sure we came out of the gate with some firepower, some energy.”

James Harden had 32 points for Houston but was just 2 of 15 on 3-pointers in a game where the Rockets made 10 of 44 3-point attempts.

KINGS 113, WIZARDS 106: Harrison Barnes matched his season high with 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 points and Sacramento won at Washington.

Buddy Hield added 18 points, including a late 3-pointer, and Richaun Holmes had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Kings won for the seventh time in 10 games to improve to 7-8.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 20 points, ending his string of 30 or more points at a career-best five games. Isaiah Thomas finished with 17 points, and Moritz Wagner had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

NETS 103, KNICKS 101: Spencer Dinwiddie scored 30 points in another strong start in place of the injured Kyrie Irving, and visiting Brooklyn got its season-high third straight victory.

Dinwiddie was 13 of 14 from the foul line, where the Nets had a 27-9 advantage in makes.

Jarrett Allen added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Marcus Morris scored 26 points for the Knicks.

NUGGETS 116, SUNS 104: Paul Millsap scored 23 points and Jamal Murray and Will Barton had 22 apiece in Denver ‘s win at home.

Nikola Jokic had just eight points, but grabbed 13 rebounds to help Denver win its fifth in a row.

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