Preview: Mavs look to continue impressive play at Hornets' nest
Preview: Mavericks (24-29) at Hornets (19-36)
Mavs look to continue impressive play at Hornets' nest
NEW ORLEANS — Although one play can’t determine the success of an 82-game season, it can be just what a team needs to turn the tide.
Down by six points to the Orlando Magic in the third quarter Wednesday night after watching a 16-point lead evaporate, the Dallas Mavericks received a spark from an unlikely source after leading scorer O.J. Mayo’s surprising defensive stand on J.J. Redick led to an alley-oop connection to sixth man Vince Carter at the other end of the floor to spark a 10-3 close to the period. The Mavericks (24-29) then went on to notch their fifth win in the last seven games following a 111-96 victory, inching closer into the playoff discussion after claiming their first game coming out of the All-Star break.
Just 48 hours later, the Mavs will try to carry that momentum into Friday night’s matchup against the New Orleans Hornets, looking to avenge a 99-96 loss in Dallas back on Jan. 5.
“It’s as good a hustle sequence as we’ve had all year,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the defensive stand. “I thought the timing of it couldn’t have been more key in the game. We were down six at the time and it was going to be eight. Instead, we go down and get a lob-dunk, get another stop and then hit a 3. That’s a huge swing — that’s a seven-point swing within seconds. If that doesn’t happen, we may be whistling a different tune right now. But it did, so we survived it, which is good. Now, we’ve got to get ready for Friday, and New Orleans is an improving team and they beat us last time. It’ll be another tough game.”
“I mean, O.J. made the play and made it all happen,” Carter added. “I mean, it was a great save from Shawn [Marion] initially, a great recovery, great block, and he got his own rebound and made a great pass. We need those multiple efforts if we want to win. We have a lot of ground to cover getting back into it, and when we got (into the locker room) Coach showed it again, because that’s what we have to do.”
The Mavericks may need more efforts like that from their leading scorers after parting ways Thursday with one of their top perimeter defenders at the trade deadline, sending swingman Dahntay Jones to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for sharpshooter Anthony Morrow.
Morrow is expected to add the perimeter shooting that the Mavs have admittedly lacked all season, averaging 11.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 26.2 minutes through his first four seasons in the league while making stops in Golden State, New Jersey and Atlanta. The undrafted shooting assassin back in 2008 is also a career 42.5-percent shooter from behind the 3-point arc, which is where his impact could be felt most.
The 6-foot-5 Morrow may have to wait to do so, however, receiving his physical in Dallas before joining the team at an undetermined date.
“He’s one of the best shooters in the game and you can never have too many shooters,” Carlisle said of his new acquisition. “We want to thank Dahntay for what he brought to us over a period of four of five months. He brought us toughness, he helped us win some games, and he’s a pro. And so, he’s going to be successful wherever he goes, but Atlanta’s got a good player and we’ve got a guy that we feel can help us stretch the defense even more.”
Meanwhile, the Mavs will try to continue to charge ahead, looking to change their fortunes in New Orleans Arena after losing nine of their previous 10 road matchups against the Hornets (19-36). And with little margin for error while sitting 4 ½ games behind Houston for the final playoff position in the Western Conference standings, the Mavs will try to conquer their demons on the Hornets’ home floor before returning home for Sunday’s matinee matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“You know, we have no room to enjoy any of the wins right now. We have to get focused for the next game,” veteran big man Elton Brand explained after matching Marion’s 17 points to lead the Mavs on Wednesday. “It’s a hole that we dug ourselves. We dug ourselves into this hole, so we have to find a way to fight out. Every time we win it’s one step closer to the goal, and we just have to remain positive out there. We still have our destiny in our own hands. We play the teams in front of us a few times still, and we just have to find a way to win.”
Note: The Mavs will now venture back out on the road for one game, returning to action Friday night in New Orleans for the first of three matchups against the Hornets in the final 29 games of the regular season. The Hornets lead the season series between the two teams 1-0 after a 99-96 win in Dallas back on Jan. 5. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.
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