The coronavirus pandemic is rearing its ugly head these days, and NBA teams have been affected.Jason Kidd

Earlier this month, the Charlotte Hornets had five players enter the health and safety protocols. On Monday, 10 members of the Chicago Bulls were in the health and safety protocol.

That forced the NBA to step in and postpone the Bulls’ next two games – Tuesday in Chicago against Detroit and Thursday at Toronto.

The Hornets know all too well what the Bulls are experiencing. Charlotte had four players in the health and safety protocols on Dec. 5 and added another one a day later.

Before losing to the Dallas Mavericks, 120-96, on Monday at American Airlines Center, the Hornets still had two players on the COVID list, although center Mason Plumlee and power forward Jalen McDaniels were cleared to practice on Monday.

And all of this came after Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle tested positive for COVID-19 and missed – among others — last Friday’s game against the Mavs.

“It’s not just with Charlotte, but it’s throughout the league,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We saw it in Indiana with Rick. It’s real.

“You have to prepare, you have to adjust, and (have) the next man up mentality. There’s some teams that don’t have enough players.”

Despite being four players short, the Hornets went to Atlanta and defeated the Hawks, 130-127, on Dec. 5 on the last day of a four-game road trip.

The very next day on the second leg of a back-to-back, they came home and dropped an overtime thriller to the Philadelphia 76ers, 127-124, despite being short-handed by five players, including starters Lamelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Plumlee.

Still down five players, the Hornets traveled to Philly on Dec. 8 and lost to the Sixers, 111-106.  However, with seven players sidelined with either an illness or in the health and safety protocols, last Friday the Hornets edged the Sacramento Kings, 124-123.

With the new Omicron variant now in several states, Kidd said: “It’s something that the league is probably prepared and has talked about. But everybody is going to face it.

“The weather has changed, and it’s here and it’s always been here. Hopefully we can just continue to do the right thing, and people are cautious of what they’re doing in public.”

TimHARDAWAY BREAKS OUT OF SLUMP: Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. broke out of his three-point shooting slump during Monday’s 24-point win over the Hornets.

Hardaway entered Monday’s contest converting just four-of-27 three-pointers in his previous four games. That includes an 0-of-7 showing from downtown against Brooklyn on Dec. 7, a 1-of-6 performance against Memphis last Wednesday and a 1-of-9 output against Indiana last Friday.

But on Monday, Hardaway poured in 19 points on 5-of-11 baskets from beyond the three-point arc.

The way the Mavs were able to get some defensive stops and get out in transition were the catalyst they used for several of their wide open three-pointers against Charlotte.

“That definitely helps getting stops and being able to run,” said Hardaway, who had his highest scoring performance since he scored 29 points against Memphis on Dec. 4. “In Indiana, I didn’t knock down (but one) of my threes.

“But when we were getting stops (against Charlotte) and we were running the break and getting easy looks and getting in driving lanes, that’s what makes it fun.”Sterling

And that fun for the Mavs translated into a win that put them back over .500 with a 14-13 record heading into Wednesday’s home game against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It takes your mind off it a little bit,” Hardaway said. “As long as you continue to get stops and get rebounds and push the ball and get easy looks, you should be fine.”

BRIEFLY: After holding the Hornets to just 96 points on Monday, the Mavs are now 6-2 this season when limiting their opponents to under 100 points. . .Center Willie Cauley-Stein missed his ninth consecutive game due to personal reasons. Coach Jason Kidd said there’s no update on when Cauley-Stein will return to the Mavs. . .Guard Sterling Brown sat out his fifth straight game with soreness in his left foot. . .The Mavs’ bench players were at it again on Monday. After the Mavs’ reserve players outscored their Oklahoma City Thunder counterparts on Sunday, 54-29, on Monday they outscored the Charlotte Hornets’ reserves, 59-47.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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