Our five takeaways from the 116-100 win at Charlotte on Saturday.
Give him the rock: When Seth Curry found the zone with 10 consecutive buckets, the reactions were fun to watch. The bench players were all on their feet every time Curry cocked his wrist. And afterward, everybody knew it was Curry’s game as he returned to his hometown. “It was fun,” said Dorian Finney-Smith. “Knowing that this is where he’s from. He came out on fire. He shot the ball good last night too (in Washington, where he was 4-of-9 from 3-point range). That’s what he do. When a guy’s rolling, give him the rock.” So that’s what the Mavericks did. They got assists on seven of Curry’s baskets, including three from Ryan Broekhoff.
Strong defense mechanism: If it wasn’t a historic start to the game for the Mavericks, it wasn’t far from it. The Hornets started the game 1-for-16 from the field. They had two points with under four minutes left in the first quarter. It was a huge reversal from Friday night when the Mavericks allowed Washington to shoot 50 percent from 3-point range. “It was a much-needed effort,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought our defense was terrific, particularly at the start of the game. It set a tone. Our communication was better. Guys bounced back in a big way. Charlotte had some rough luck shooting the ball. But we had something to do with that. A 10-point defensive quarter is very rare in the NBA. You got to have some good fortune.” And some good hustle, which the Mavericks did. Charlotte was behind 31-10 after the first quarter, when they were 4-for-24 (16.7 percent) from the floor.
Oh, by the way: While Curry ended up hitting 10-of-14 shots, it went almost unnoticed that he wasn’t the best-shooting player the Mavericks had. That honor went to Willie Cauley-Stein, who started at center with Kristaps Porzingis out. Cauley-Stein made all seven of his shots and finished with his first double-double as a Maverick with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He also blocked two shots and the Mavericks were a plus-25 during Cauley-Stein’s 25 minutes on the floor. The 7-footer has grabbed 10 rebounds in both of his starts since joining the Mavericks.
Bounce-back effort: The Mavericks are 16-5 this season after a loss. Resiliency is a great trait for any team to have since it’s inevitable that there will be adversity during a long season. What’s been equally impressive is that they have rebounded the ball very well even though they’ve played a lot of games in the last six weeks without Luka Doncic (9.5 rebounds per game) and Kristaps Porzingis (9.1 per game). Big kudos to Ryan Broekhoff, Curry and Jalen Brunson, who combined for 19 rebounds against the Hornets. Broekhoff had a career-best nine boards.
Waiting for the break: The Mavericks have two very difficult games left before the All-Star break. And they are at home, where nothing seems to come easy for them. First, Utah will visit on Monday. Then Sacramento comes to town on Wednesday. This time of the season, players are exhausted and it is easy to mentally check out for the break before it actually gets here. Rest assured Rick Carlisle will have a close watch on the emotional pulse of the team in the next few days.