DALLAS -- If the Dallas Mavericks didn't know it before, last weekend's two-game swing in the Midwest showed them how valuable Vince Carter is to this team.
Carter was suspended from last Friday's game in Minnesota, and the Mavs promptly lost to the Timberwolves, 116-108. But when Carter returned Saturday and contributed 13 points and three assists in Milwaukee, the Mavs were able to dethrone the Bucks, 91-83.
"We know how important he is,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of Carter. "I could have answered this question before the Minnesota game, but we've got to be able to have other guys step in.
"The truth is we scored enough points in the Minnesota game to win the game. We just didn’t guard
well enough, and so in those instances we've got to step up, we've got to adjust our game and the points have got to come in different ways.''
The oldest Mavs player at age 36, Carter is usually the team's first player off the bench. And when he wasn't available to play against Minnesota --the NBA suspended Carter for one game for elbowing Oklahoma City center Steven Adams last Wednesday -- it left a void that was difficult to fill.
Carlisle said that void included: "Scoring, playmaking, defense, rebounding, presence. There’s probably 15 other things.
"Vince has been a great player for well over a decade and when we’re without him it's going to make it hard for us.''
-- Dwain Price
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