DALLAS – It almost was as if it was a stark signal that Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was angry at himself.

On the first play in the second half of Monday’s Mavs’ game against the Chicago Bulls, Smith skied and blocked Wendell Carter Jr.’s jump shot. Then, as if he was shot out of a cannon, Smith collected the defensive rebound from that blocked shot and darted all the way down the court for a layup.

As innocuous as that nine-second sequence was by Smith, it set the wheels in motion for a terrific second half by the second-year veteran from North Carolina State. It also lit a fire under thee Mavs.

After going 0-of-4 from the field and scoring no points in 10 minutes in the first half against the Bulls, Smith exploded for 11 second-half points on 5-of-8 shots in 14 minutes. That includes converting a pair of critical jumpers in the fourth quarter when the Bulls were staging a comeback.

“In the second half, it was one of the best bounce-back halves I’ve seen by a young player here in a long time,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was probably the biggest reason we were able to win that game.

“He got us off to a good start in the third (quarter), hit big shots, and made big plays in timely parts of the game.”

Those big plays Smith made during timely parts of the game enabled the Mavs to get out of Chicago with a 103-98 triumph over the Bulls.

Smith described his second-half surge as nothing more than him attacking the basket at will, and taking the shots that are in his wheelhouse.

“I made some mid-range (shots), and I’m real comfortable shooting those,” Smith said. “I was getting to the rack, being aggressive.

“I think once I did that everybody on the team got interested and we just took it from there. I was just really getting into the game.”

Carlisle credits Smith for recognizing the things he did wrong in the first half against the Bulls and going out and correcting them in the second half. He also said he doesn’t have to remind Smith that he’s probably the fastest and most athletic player on the court on any given night.

“His speed in the game is a major factor,” Carlisle said. “It’s a major positive factor for our whole club. It energizes our whole team, it energizes the guys on the floor.

“And he has the ability to put amazing vertical pressure on the defense. But it is a lot of work. Playing at that pace and to that level of exhaustion you get tired fast.”

The Mavs, however, know they can’t afford to get tired. Especially when they’re set to host a Utah Jazz team on Wednesday night at 7:30 that has already beaten them twice this season.

Still, the Mavs are riding a season-high tying two-game winning streak and are coming off their first road win of the season. So their confidence level is through the roof, particularly since they’ve held their last two opponents under 100 points.

“It feels good to win two in a row and get our first road win, but you can’t get complacent,” Smith said. “You’ve got to keep pushing.”

And keep attacking the basket the way Smith did in the second half against the Bulls.

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