Mavericks vs. Hornets
Chandler Parsons led the way with 24 points and Dirk chipped in 23 as the Mavs took care of business on the road against Charlotte, 107-96.
Final: Mavs 107, Hornets 96
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Dallas scored 1.500 points per possession in the fourth quarter. How about that for closing strong?
The Mavs allowed only 33 points in the first half, taking a 19-point lead at the break. It doesn’t take a crazy stat to tell you how good the defense was, but here’s one anyway: Coming into this game, Charlotte had been averaging — averaging — 61.4 points in the first half in its last seven games, all wins. Dallas in essence cut the Hornets’ offense in half in the first half, which no doubt made a huge impact in this game.
There was an immediate pace impact with the small-ball unit, as well. Dallas got the ball across halfcourt in three seconds or less on 20 of its 23 possessions in the first quarter alone. That is a huge number. For the season, the Mavs score nearly 0.1 more points per possession when they get the ball across by the 21-second mark than when they do not, demonstrating the importance of forcing the defense off-balance by racing it up the floor and running action before the opponent is ready to play.
This was a gutsy, gutsy, huge, huge win. Charlotte had won seven in a row and the Mavs had lost five in a row, and with a very tough stretch of schedule ahead for Dallas, this game meant a heck of a lot. Dallas responded the way we hoped it would, and the Mavs held on even as the Hornets went supernova in the second half and took the lead. Thanks in large part to Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, and Chandler Parsons, the Mavs went into fourth quarter mode and never looked back, closing out what has to be the biggest win of the season.
The Mavs changed up the starting lineup tonight, replacing center Zaza Pachulia with combo-guard Raymond Felton. It might only be a temporary thing, as Charlotte plays smaller than most other clubs. Or, it could be a harbinger of things to come for the Mavs, who have played more and more small-ball lately, particularly with the Parsons-Dirk Nowitzki combo at the 4 and 5, respectively. The Dallas offense typically sizzles with those two playing together next to three guards, but defense and rebounding have been issues. However, the longer they play that style, presumably the better they’ll become as they see increased reps in both practice and game situations. It’s a small-ball league these days, so it makes sense that the Mavs would look to this as an option. Depending on its success in the next few games, it might become the typical lineup moving forward. Or it might not. Time will tell, but it’s still a noteworthy change for now.
Dirk had his third 20/10 game since the All-Star break and his fifth consecutive game with at least 22 points, matching his longest streak since the 2011-12 season. He’s been playing at an otherworldly level lately, especially for a player at his age. He’s a special guy, no doubt about it.
If the first half was a party, the second half was a test. Charlotte really ramped up the pressure, forcing six Mavs turnovers in the third quarter and playing with a relentless aggression the team did not assume in either of the first two. The Hornets have won seven straight and are in position to win homecourt in the East, so clearly Charlotte is a good team, particularly at home. You had to expect a run was coming, and before all was said and done the Hornets got to as close as four points in the third and took the lead early in the fourth, hitting a ton of three-pointers and scoring some easy fast break points. But the Mavs maintained their composure in the face of adversity, a hallmark of any good veteran team.
Justin Anderson saw plenty of playing time in the first half, taking the floor for eight minutes as the Mavs shifted the rotation and Deron Williams battled foul trouble. He scored only one point in that time, but he also recorded three rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a massive block on Nic Batum on the fast break. He grabbed the board after his own swat, ran the length of the floor, and drew a foul while attacking the rim. He was very dynamic, providing the energy and athleticism Dallas was searching for when it selected Anderson in last summer’s draft. Now we’re left to wonder if he might play extended minutes moving forward this season, or if this perhaps was a matchup-based decision.
Both teams had a bit of an edge in this one. Early in the second half, Justin Anderson was whistled for a technical foul after a hard foul on Cody Zeller. Later in that same frame, David Lee was hit with a flagrant-1 after another hard foul on Zeller. Meanwhile, Hornets coach Steve Clifford, point guard Kemba Walker, and forward Nic Batum picked up Ts for arguing calls and Batum popped Parsons in the face with his off hand during one possession. I don’t know that these teams liked each other too much in this game, so the officials had plenty of work to do. But hey: That’s what time of year it is. The Mavs have said themselves they’re at a crossroads, and the Hornets are tying to climb into the top half of the East playoff bracket. Both teams wanted this game and they played like it.
The Mavs (34-33) play the Cleveland Cavaliers (47-18) Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. Central.