DALLAS_ In one of their more impressive games of the season Friday – at least on the
offensive end -- the Dallas Mavericks looked like they were ready to defend
their NBA title.
The Mavs tallied a season-high in points, shot a sizzling 54.9 percent from the field and had their way with the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter while pulling away for a 116-101 victory before a sellout crowd of 20,096 at American Airlines Center.
Even with Dirk Nowitzki and Delonte West in streets clothes, and with Jason Kidd joining them after he strained his right calf less than two minutes into the game, the Mavs were an offensive juggernaut against a solid Jazz squad.
“I thought everybody on the team played well,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “Jason went out early with a calf strain and all of a sudden a lot of things changed for us.’’
What changed was Rodrigue Beaubois stepped in during Kidd’s absence and played near-flawless basketball. Beaubois had a season-high 22 points, a season-high seven assists and a career-high four blocks to go with six rebounds in one of the best all-around games of his career.
All of it was needed with Nowitzki, West and Kidd as mere spectators.
“We learned that we can play well (without the aforementioned three starters),’’ Beaubois said. “But we just need to keep pushing out there.
“We’re very close, but we just need to keep pushing and keep working.’’
The Mavs (12-8) had six players in double-figure scoring for just the second time this season. Besides Beaubois, Lamar Odom poured in a season-high 19 points and grabbed five boards, Jason Terry tossed in 18 points, Shawn Marion contributed 16 points, Vince Carter scored 12, and Brendan Haywood added 12 points and 12 rebounds in registering his first double-double of the season.
Carlisle even praised the 13 minutes he got from Dominique Jones, especially the eight minutes he played in the fourth quarter that enabled the Mavs to rest players ahead of him in the rotation.
“That’s really key,’’ Carlisle said of Jones’ efforts. “Odom played his best game of the year, Marion was really consistent, and Haywood was a force inside.’’
This also was the first time Carter played since straining his left foot during a Jan. 16 game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The 6-6 Carter converted 5-of-10 shots and a few times found himself guarding Enes Kanter, a 6-11, 267-pound brute of a player.
“Carter, tonight, came in and gave us a huge lift at the start of the game when Kidd went out,’’ Carlisle said. “He hit two or three shots immediately and that got the building going and got
everybody into it.
“I was really proud of the way the guys competed because this is a very competitive team.’’
The outcome, for the Mavs, was a reversal of fortunes after what transpired Wednesday when the Minnesota Timberwolves drilled Dallas, 105-90, in this same building.
“All these guys got to stay ready,’’ Carlisle said. “Tonight was really a microcosm of what this season is about.
“You can tear up any rotation sheet that you make up. It’s going to be seat of our pants, everybody’s got to be ready. We trust all our guys and tonight they showed why their trust is earned.’’
The game was tied 30-30 after the first period, and the Mavs assumed a 58-50 lead at the half. It was still 82-80 Dallas with 1:15 left in the third quarter until the Mavs exploded with a 28-9 run to blow the game completely open.
“They made a run,’’ Jazz coach Tyron Corbin said. “I don’t think that I’d say they blew us out, but we cut it to two points there at the end of the third quarter.
“But give them credit. They made the right plays and made some big shots and we just didn’t make shots at the end.’’
-- Dwain Price
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