DALLAS _ Jason Terry looked at the evidence and couldn’t help but noticing something magical about the Dallas Mavericks.
Lately, they've been playing defense similar to the defense that led them to win last year's NBA title.
“We’re starting to figure out our identity,’’ Terry said. “When you can come out every night consistently and play your style of basketball, regardless of what’s going on on the offensive end of the floor, you’re going to win a lot of games.
“And I think we’re finding our way.’’
The Mavs are finding their way because they have been able to turn up the intensity on the defensive end of the court, although they’ve struggled some offensively.
After allowing 100-plus points the first three games of the season, the Mavs haven’t allowed anyone to hit the century mark during the last eight games. That including keeping six of the last eight foes under 90 points.
“Defense, defense, defense,’’ Terry said. “I can’t stress it enough.
“Our offense and chemistry is not in good rhythm, it’s not a flow. Obviously Jason Kidd is not here to help there, but defensively it’s energy and effort and that’s what coaches stress.’’
Part of that defensive energy has come from point guard Delonte West, who has filled in solidly while Jason Kidd has been sidelined the last three games with a lower back injury.
“I just like where we’re at as a team,’’ West said. “It was a lot of emotions going on out there (during Wednesday’s win in Boston) and it was for the best.
“A lot of guys getting in each other’s face for the right reasons and pulling each other along, and in the end that’s just making us more of a team and more of a unit. It’s turning us into a family.’’
The Mavs’ defense haven’t yet made anyone forget the job Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and DeShawn Stevenson at the defensive end of the floor last year. But the Mavs are excited about the defensive progress this year’s squad has made.
“We’re still learning each other and everybody is taking the challenge of guarding their guys,’’ forward Shawn Marion said. “That’s the biggest thing is we’re playing defense.’’
-- Dwain Price
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