January 21, 2012

Mavericks beat Hornets without Nowitzki

Lamar Odom steps up as the Mavericks grind out a win in New Orleans as Dirk Nowitzki goes to the sideline.

NEW ORLEANS -- With their franchise player on the bench in street clothes, the Dallas Mavericks found themselves in grind-it-out mode for the fourth straight time on this four-game road trip.

But after a pair of hiccups in Los Angeles to start the road trip, the Mavs slipped out of the Crescent City with an 83-81 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.

The victory enabled the Mavs to widen their record to 10-7 and gave them a 2-2 worksheet on the road trip.

It also tested their mettle again, because all four games came down to a last-second shot.

"We had to get productivity from a lot of different guys," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had to get a level of competitiveness and hard play from top to bottom. It's a great win. This has been a very, very hard place for us to win."

The Mavs had dropped eight straight games in the Hornets' arena before barely getting out of town with a victory on Saturday.

And it wasn't easy ... again.

Lamar Odom started in place of Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, who will miss four games with a sore right knee. And Odom responded with his best game of the season.

Dallas led by as much as 13 points, only to see the Hornets chop the lead down to 81-80 on a Carl Landry basket with 6.7 seconds left. Jason Terry then made a pair of free throws to pad the Mavs' lead to 83-80 with 5.9 seconds remaining.

Mavs guard Jason Kidd intentionally fouled Jarrett Jack with 1.8 seconds left.

Jack hit the first free throw and intentionally missed the second one.

Jack was able to corral the rebound, and had a wide-open look at the basket from 14 feet.

However, he rushed the shot and missed the potential tying basket as time expired.

Odom finished with 16 points and four rebounds, Delonte West contributed 16 points and six assists, Shawn Marion had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Jason Terry scored 12 and Brendan Haywood added six points and 10 rebounds.

The game was tied 41-41 at the half, and the Mavs opened the third quarter with a 12-0 spurt, with Odom and West each scoring five points.

"I liked the way Lamar played," Carlisle said. "We're a running team and with him starting and getting more minutes, this is an opportunity for him to get in the habit of running and to raise his level of conditioning.

"The only reason he didn't finish the game is he was dead tired, but he did a lot of good things. He made some timely plays, and this week is a big week for him."

With Nowitzki out, the Mavs knew it was going to be challenging just to score and to get their offense cranked up. But their defense was solid again.

In fact, this is the 14th straight game in which the Mavs have given up fewer than 100 points in a game, a franchise record.

"We've gone through this last year when we lost him for nine games," Kidd said of Nowitzki. "We felt like we have a lot of talent here, and we feel like our depth is one of our keys. Everybody has to step up."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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