It looked like another cakewalk for Dallas against the Hornets Sunday after the team got out to an early 19 point lead. But thanks to an offensive lull that saw them go scoreless for more than six minutes of the second quarter, Charlotte was able to pull within 10 at halftime.
The Mavericks were never quite able to bust the game open but the Hornets never really made it that close either. That's nothing new for these teams. When they last played on November 17, Dallas won by 27.
Monta Ellis paced the Mavs with 23 points and four assists while Amar'e Stoudemire posted 14 points on eight shots in his Dallas debut.
Game notes and observations:
- Ellis continued his recent struggles most of Sunday night--likely a result of a hip injury suffered before the All-Star break that he's admitted has bothered him. He bricked several pull-up jumpers and looked to leave the ball short on more than one drive. But the Mavericks' iron man looked like a different player in the fourth quarter, when he scored 15 of the team's 25 points.
- Both Dallas and Charlotte were without a starter as Chandler Parsons missed his first game with a high ankle sprain and Hornets point guard Kemba Walker continued to sit after surgery on a torn meniscus. But both teams got decent numbers from their replacements. Richard Jefferson hit three of eight three point attempts to finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Mo Williams, starting at point guard for the Hornets, scored 22 points but made just three of 11 three point attempts.
- Charlotte center Al Jefferson, an All-NBA third teamer last season, struggled mightily against the Mavs and finished with only eight points on 16 shot attempts. That was due in no small part to the Tyson Chandler, who repeatedly bothered Jefferson inside with his length.
- The Mavs made a point of going frequently to Stoudemire, who signed as a free agent last week, during his 11 minutes on the court. The offense didn't always look great when he tried posting up his man but he worked well with reserve guards Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, finishing several shots on rolls to the basket.
- Al-Farouq Aminu went scoreless in 24 minutes but he impacted the game defensively, blocking three Charlotte shot attempts. The Mavs needed more minutes from their reserves Sunday with Parsons out but Aminu looks to have carved out a more consistent role thanks to his defense and high energy. Charlie Villanueva likewise struggled with his shot, scoring only six points on seven attempts, but he grabbed eight rebounds in only 18 minutes. Even with Stoudemire on the team, Dallas needs those two to find ways to contribute when they make it on the court. Hopefully once Amar'e gets comfortable on the floor, the team's other bench players will see their roles overextended less often.