Vince Carter always knew his shooting slump would eventually end.
The Dallas Mavericks’ forward just didn’t know when.
From the time he made 7 of 12 shots against Miami on Nov. 15, Carter went 10 consecutive games where he shot below .500 percent from the field.
The 15-year veteran snapped that slump Wednesday when he made 5 of 9 shots and scored 15 points in the Mavs’ 100-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
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Carter had been watching film trying to find anything that would give him a clue as to why he wasn’t hitting.
“I put the pressure on myself to make shots,” Carter said. “I know you’re not going to make them all, but the mentality has to stay there and I continue to have that mentality to shoot the ball with confidence.”
Carter has been mired in a season-long slump that also has mystified his teammates and the coaching staff.
Besides the games against Miami and New Orleans, the only other time Carter has made at least half of his field goals was opening day against the Atlanta Hawks when he made 9 of 16 shots and scored 21 points.
“I don’t know why he’s struggling, but he’ll turn it on at some point,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He went through ups and downs last year. Guys go through ups and downs.”
Against New Orleans, Carter made 3-of-4 3-pointers and was a big reason the Mavs were able to hold off the Pelicans.
“He made some big shots; he made some big 3s; he made some big plays for us,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s obviously a big key to our offense with Monta [Ellis] attacking a lot and I’m attacking a lot.”
The Mavs have had a grueling schedule thus far with seven back-to-backs, but Carter doesn’t believe the frequency of games has affected his performance. Carter, who turns 37 next month, also takes good care of himself.
He is usually one of the first players at the arena to receive routine treatment that helps him get through games. That includes ice, a massage and other maintenance issues.
“I like to get here early and get my shots up before most of the guys are here, anyway, just to get it out of the way so I can just get the treatment,” Carter said. “I get a lot of flak for that.
“All the little maintenance stuff that’s important that as a young guy you don’t think about because you just can go, now it’s like, ‘OK, I can go, but before I go let me tune up the engine.’ But I feel good.”
The Mavs (12-8) hope Carter’s engine stays tuned up for a while, particularly because they play at the Western Conference-leading Portland Trail Blazers (16-3) at 9 p.m. Saturday.
“Believe me, it’s always great to see it go in,” Carter said of his shot. “Because once the first one goes in, once the first two go in, look out.”
Center/power forward Brandan Wright could go through his first full contact practice Friday since suffering a small non-displaced fracture of his left shoulder on Oct. 8.
The Mavs have missed the athleticism, shooting, shot-blocking and rebounding Wright brings to the court.