Inside Report: Mavericks-Bobcats recap — Mavs barrel through Bobcats for eighth straight W
In Tyson Chandler's return to Charlotte, the Mavericks ripped through the Bobcats once again, running their winning streak to eight. Earl K. Sneed recaps the action.
CHARLOTTE — Mavericks center Tyson Chandler said he felt very little emotion Saturday night as he made a return to Charlotte to play a Bobcats team that traded him to Dallas this offseason.
In fact, Chandler admitted that his focus was less on paying the Bobcats back and more so on helping the Mavericks build off their momentum following Friday night’s 101-97 road win in Boston.
“Coming off a big win last night, we don’t want any disappointments,” Chandler said before the game. “I wasn’t here long enough to have some built-up animosity. They were always good to me here. I had good teammates, a good organization. So, it’s just one of those things.”
“[Chandler] was all business like he always is,” point guard Jason Kidd added. “There wasn’t anything that he said (to indicate) he wanted to get this win. This was a back-to-back, and so he was focused on trying to help us get off to a good start.”
With that said, Chandler prepared to lead the Mavericks into Time Warner Cable Arena looking for their eighth straight win overall, while also hoping to keep a 13-0 all-time record against the Bobcats intact after Dallas’ 101-86 season-opening victory over Charlotte back on Oct. 27.
With a nine-point, 15-rebound night, Chandler did his part. Meanwhile, the 7-footer’s teammates rallied around him, as the Mavericks (35-15) did keep both streaks going with a 101-92 win.
“It was a game that we definitely wanted to get coming off of last night’s game. Last night was a big game and we didn’t want to have a letdown tonight,” Chandler said after the win.
In the process, the Mavericks also finished off their three-game road trip without a blemish, storming through a trio of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
“Our goal on this road trip was to win all three, and we were very locked in,” sixth man Jason Terry said. “We were focused. And I think this group is a veteran group that when it sets goals for itself, we’re gonna go attack it head-on.”
“This road trip just shows the character of this team and how much we were able to go out here and just take it. Take what we wanted,” forward Shawn Marion added.
For a second straight game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle went with a three-guard starting lineup of Kidd, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson next to power forward Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler. And for the second consecutive game, Barea was the player that got the Mavs off to a quick start, as Dallas opened the showdown with the first six points of the night.
“It’s awesome starting, I’m not gonna lie,” Barea said. “But I just stayed aggressive. Coach is doing a great job of putting me in good situations and my teammates are setting great screens for me. J-Kidd is doing a good job of giving me the ball and I’m doing a good job of staying aggressive.”
After a brief Charlotte spurt, the Mavericks closed the opening quarter strong, taking a 31-22 lead into the second period with all five Dallas starters scoring at least three points.
It didn’t take long for the Dallas advantage to increase to double figures early in the second, as Nowitzki had his way with the Charlotte defense while the Mavericks locked down sharpshooter Stephen Jackson.
“They depend on Jax’s scoring, and not only his scoring but his ability to find guys. I think we made it tough on him. We threw a couple of guys at him, stayed in the passing lanes and because of that, their offense was a little stagnant,” Chandler said.
“Whenever you play against Jackson, he’s always gonna be an emphasis of your defensive game plan, because he’s explosive and he’s had huge games on us. So, we have a lot of respect for him,” Carlisle echoed.
And after cleaning up the glass in the first period, Chandler provided a couple of highlight reel dunks in the second stanza. But the big man’s technical foul to close the first half would give the Bobcats (21-29) a chance to cut their deficit coming out of the locker room, putting a mild downer on the fact that the Mavericks took a 55-45 lead at the break.
Terry led all scorers with 14 points on 4-for-8 from the floor, while Nowitzki matched Charlotte’s Boris Diaw with 11 first-half points. Doing his damage in the interior, Chandler fell just short of a double-double through two quarters after tallying eight points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, the Mavericks outshot the Bobcats, 49 percent to 41 percent, in addition to a 30-18 advantage in points in the paint.
“We came out and played really well there in the first half. Moved the ball, got good shots and were solid defensive,” Nowitzki said.
The Mavericks were off and running early in the third, with Barea’s step-back 3-pointer giving the Mavs their largest lead at 18. The Mavs were able to maintain their edge after Marion served up a facial dunk over Gerald Wallace. Then Kidd’s perimeter shooting kept the Bobcats at bay, helping the Mavericks take an 82-66 advantage into the final 12 minutes of play.
“We got off to a good start, and then the last couple of games the third quarters have been big for us,” Kidd explained. “Tonight, we came out in the third quarter and got (the lead) up … We made shots, we got stops, and from there we just tried to run the clock out.”
“(The third quarter) was key, because what it did was gave us enough cushion to where if they did turn it on, they would have to exert so much energy that they pretty much wouldn’t have anything left,” Terry added.
But the Bobcats didn’t go down quietly, creeping to within eight as Jackson tried to assert himself. Still, the Mavericks didn’t panic, holding the home team off with timely scores by Terry and Marion.
“We had some trying stretches tonight. But when it counted, we were able to hold it together,” Carlisle said.
Terry then finished the Bobcats off for the night, draining a jumper inside the final two minutes to close the door.
“As you see, towards the end, they tried to turn it on at the end and they just didn’t have enough juice,” Terry concluded.
“It was actually a ballgame in the fourth and we had to work harder than we wanted to, but it’s definitely a good way to close the road trip out,” Nowitzki added.
Nowitzki led the way with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting, while Terry provided 21 points off the bench. Barea added 15 points, while Kidd’s 13 and Marion’s 10 made it five Dallas scorers in double figures, helping the squad move to 25-1 this season in games it has scored in triple digits.
“We’re just having fun, just doing what we do,” Terry said. “Back to how we came out of training camp, that same kind of feeling, that same type of edginess about us. That competitive fire is there … But hey, it’s a long season. And this is just another stretch where we’ve been able to get things accomplished, especially offensively the way we’re moving the ball.”
D.J. Augustin led six Charlotte players in double figures with 21 points, and Jackson ended the night with 17 points on 5-of-17 from the floor. But the most telling statistic, however, may have been the shooting percentages, as the Mavericks finished the game hitting on close to 47 percent of their shots compared to the Bobcats’ 37 percent shooting at the other end.
“The key for us was holding them around 40 percent shooting all night long,” Nowitzki explained. “Our defense was solid, mixing in zone and mixing in man-to-man. I definitely thought it was a good defensive effort.”
The two teams also played each other to virtual draws in rebounding, points in the paint, second-chance points and fast-break points, with either side holding a slight advantage.
Now, with an eight-game winning streak in hand, the Mavericks will journey back to Dallas, taking Super Bowl Sunday off before welcoming in the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
The Mavs handed the Cavaliers a 104-95 loss on Jan. 2. Since, the Cleveland team has continued to feel the sting of two-time MVP LeBron James’ departure to Miami, falling in an NBA-record 24 straight games including Saturday night’s 111-105 loss to Portland.
But the Mavericks say they can’t count that game as a victory ahead of time, placing a special importance on the matchup with another three-game road trip immediately afterwards.
“It’s a fight every night, and this is the NBA,” Marion said while looking ahead to Monday night. “Every team is a different challenge for us, and I think we’ve just got to prepare ourselves the best way we can to match up with these guys … Just go out there and have fun doing it. And just keep hitting that century mark. It seems like every time we hit that century mark, everything else takes care of itself.”
Note: Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Mavericks return to Dallas to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at the American Airlines Center. The matchup will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Great seats are still available and tickets can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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