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Chandler Starts as Mavericks Tame Bobcats

On Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks moved to 18-13 all-time in season openers with a 101-86 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at the American Airlines Center.  As a road team, Charlotte had to play at their best because they were in a hostile environment.  When you allow a 16-0 run to start the game, it's tough for many teams to overcome that deficit and in the end, Dallas made them pay for it. 

Rick Carlisle has been recognized as a coach who will keep things close to the vest and he kept a relatively large secret for as long as he could.  It's hard to hide a guy the size of Tyson Chandler but Carlisle definitely hid the nature of Chandler's role for the evening until the last possible moment.   Chandler's role: Starting Center.

For the past couple of seasons, Tyson Chandler has had to battle nagging injuries, mainly an ankle issue, to the point where there were times after games, he truly didn't know how things would go.  He described how, "after games it (the ankle) hurt, walking out in pain and thinking about how I am going to do it again the next day."  The newest center for the Mavericks had to endure all of those injuries and he's made it all the way back.  Add to that an impressive preseason and Chandler emerged as the starting center for the Mavericks on opening night. 

Tyson's stat-line left him two points and two rebounds short of a double-double, but his impact goes beyond numbers.  Chandler already has a big fan in Carlisle, "I love him."  The coach continued, "He really brings some toughness to our team, particularly our starters, because he brings a dynamic athleticism that we haven't had here at that position."  With that praise, Carlisle made sure to acknowledge that Haywood is still a vital member of the center duo.   "Haywood did a really good job off the bench," he told us.  "He's being asked to take on a different role than he's ever had.  He gave us a presence when Tyson wasn't in the game."

The Mavericks were very active on the defensive end of the court.  They were all lively and running around and did a great job getting Charlotte out of their rhythm on the offensive side of the court, forcing the Bobcats to only 39.7% shooting from the field.  With the defense frustrating Charlotte, Dallas was able to turn their defense into an effective offensive game.  They did so in the form of 28 fast break points, as opposed to 18 for Charlotte.  The Mavericks were aggressive on both ends of the floor, and Carlisle believes Chandler played a huge role in that.  "Tyson's aggression is something that our team fed off of, I think that is something that can not be overstated," he said.

Coach Carlisle has mentioned on multiple occasions that he really admires Chandler's, "infectious spirit" and his ability to motivate his teammates.   "I have to understand and pick my words right and channel my emotions.  When I was younger, my emotions sometimes would get the best of me," Chandler said on the development of his motivational skills.  "The older I've gotten, it's more positive energy and less frustration and just learning how to motivate the people around me."

The question then becomes, will this be a permanent move for Chandler?  When asked, Carlisle said,  "We're not married to we used to say in TV when I was in TV (for ESPN), 'stay tuned.'" 

Quick Notes:

- Jason Kidd's 18 assists marked the most by a Maverick on opening night.  The previous high was 13 assists by Steve Nash in 2002.  John Stockton holds the record for the most assists on opening night with 19 against Denver in 1989.

- Dirk Nowitzki went 6-6 from the free throw line and extended his consecutive free throws-made streak from last season to 78.  The record for consecutive free throws made is 97 by Michael Williams.

- The Mavericks remain undefeated against the Charlotte Bobcats (13-0).

- Caron Butler struggled from the field but Coach Carlisle did like his aggression and his activity on the defensive side of the court.  "Offensively, I like the looks that he (Butler) got," said Carlisle.  "He shot a low percentage, for him, but he has to keep stepping into shots, those are shots he's going to make." 

- The Mavericks bench was outscored by the Bobcats bench 26- 18.  A majority of those 26 points were made by Tyrus Thomas (22).  The concerns about the bench should be short-lived.  If the plan is still in tact to move Roddy Beaubois into the starting lineup, then Jason Terry will move to the bench and help boost the scoring from the bench.