The Dallas Mavericks win! It felt like eons, but the losing streak is snapped at five games. The Mavs went to Charlotte -- who came into the game with 14 wins in their last 17 games entering Monday night -- and got a much needed victory.
RICK CARLISLE SHAKES UP THE STARTING LINEUP
Obviously, the big story (aside from winning, finally) is the change in the starting lineup. We predicted that Dallas would make such a move, though the idea was that David Lee would get the nod. Instead, it was Raymond Felton, who slid in as the second guard and shifted Wes, Parsons and Dirk up a spot. As pointed out, Charlotte was the right team to try this against, since the Hornets play Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams as their bigs.
Felton was plus-17 in 32 minutes, helping his case as one of the Mavs' most surprising plus/minus performers. Felton's baskets were few but timely, with some acrobatic finishes and a huge, deep three (his second in 25 attempts) that made the lead 13 with 3 minutes left. Ray Ray quietly racked up 12 assists, and was really effective playing off of David Lee. Pachulia, on the other end, continued to see his minutes slashed. Pachulia didn't play at all in the first half, and had just two points, two rebounds and was minus-7 in a six-minute stint in the third.
MAVS TOP THREE SCORERS DO THEIR PART
Dirk Nowitzki started out hot early on, finishing with 23 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. When he checked out with seven minutes left and a six-point lead, it was presumably for only a short rest. The Mavs responded by outscoring the Hornets 21-13 over the next six minutes, however, and Dirk checking back in was no longer necessary. Despite sitting for that crunch time run, Dirk led all Mavs at +24.
The fourth quarter belonged to Deron Wiliams and Chandler Parsons. Each scored 11 points in the final frame, hitting big shots after the Hornets climbed all the way back from a 19-point deficit to take the lead early in the period. Parsons finished with a game-high 24, including five of the team's nine 3-pointers, and Deron added 15 and 5.
BENCH SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE
The bench was not a complete trainwreck Monday night, with both David Lee (who continues to sizzle as a finisher) and Devin Harris scoring 12 apiece. The real shocker was Justin Anderson getting some early burn, as the rookie checked in midway through the first quarter and though he only played eight minutes and scored just one point, made an impact with effort plays, including three rebounds and a great chasedown block.
Anderson ended up plus-6 on the night. If he could hit some outside shots like he did last year at Virginia, Rick Carlisle might have no choice but to play this kid. Every time he sees the court I find myself thinking what a breath of fresh air it is to see someone who's actually athletic.
WES MATTHEWS DOING THINGS OTHER THAN SCORING
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the little things Wes Matthews does for this team. He didn't shoot particularly well -- again -- going 1-8 for five points, and you can tell that the shooting woes are taking a toll on him mentally. His body language is heartbreaking to watch at times, as he just can't seem to get the ball to go in despite desperately wanting it to. Still, Matthews was plus-19 in this game, thanks to his ferocious defense, which included a key point in the game when Kemba Walker started to get hot and Matthews promptly shut him down with full-court, blanketing D, which forced two turnovers in as many minutes. Wes has been the subject of ire for a lot of fans, but he's clearly working his tail off to help the Mavs in any way he can.
So, with a win finally in the books, Dallas starts their nightmare stretch of Cleveland, Golden State, Portland, Portland and Golden State. Yikes. Enjoy this win while you can, Mavs fans.