The Brooklyn Nets inflicted pain on Jose Calderon on Sunday, but the Dallas Mavericks point guard promptly took it out on the Oklahoma City Thunder two days later.
Calderon played only the opening 45 seconds against the Nets after suffering some facial injuries when he was accidentally popped in the mouth by center Mason Plumlee. While the pain in his mouth and on his nose was excruciating whenever he laughed, Calderon still went out Tuesday night and put on a magnificent performance during the Mavericks’ 128-119 overtime victory against the Thunder.
“Jose was great [Tuesday],” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “His shot-making, particularly at the end of the first half and then end of regulation and overtime, was really big.
“And he did a solid job on defense. He took a charge, he took a couple of hits and got right back up — and that’s where it’s at.”
Calderon finished with 22 points, eight assists, and had no turnovers against Oklahoma City’s attacking defense. He also was 7-of-10 from the field, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
That ties for his best shooting night of the season when he’s attempted at least 10 field goals.
Meanwhile, Calderon brushed off his injury as if it’s just one of the perils of being a pro athlete.
“I knew it was nothing,” he said. “It’s going to be uncomfortable for a few weeks, that’s all. I can play. Nothing else is going to keep me from doing it.”
Calderon’s willingness to play against the Thunder speaks to his toughness and single-minded goal of trying to help the Mavericks reach the playoffs.
“He’s a tough guy and he wants to win,” Carlisle said. “We need everybody feeling the same way and giving what they can.”
The Mavericks hope Calderon can continue showing his toughness when they play host to the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at American Airlines Center.
A 3-pointer by Calderon gave the Mavericks a 116-111 lead over the Thunder early into overtime. He also drained a 3-pointer with 26.3 seconds remaining in regulation that tied the game at 111-111 and effectively sent it into overtime.
In addition, after the Thunder went up 57-48 late in the second quarter, it was Calderon who helped lead the charge and ignite a 9-0 rally by the Mavs to get the game tied at 57-57. The nine-year veteran dropped in a 3-pointer, fed Vince Carter for a another 3, and Carter followed with yet another 3-point basket that which prevented the Thunder from running and hiding from the Mavericks.
“He knocked down some big shots for us [Tuesday] night,” forward Shawn Marion said of Calderon. “He needs to be ready [Thursday].”
Besides his offense, Calderon also played better than average defense on Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook, who was 8-of-18 from the floor, scored 23 points and turned the ball over eight times.
“You can’t stop everything in his game,” Calderon said. “He’s a great player.
“It was a game we needed to get and I’m really proud of my teammates. I felt comfortable out there.”
Chippy night expected
The Clippers beat the Mavericks 119-112 on Jan. 3 in Dallas, and 129-127 on Jan. 15 in Los Angeles. Both games had more than their share of pushing and shoving, and the Mavs expect more of the same Thursday.
“The last two games against them have been pretty physical,” forward Shawn Marion said. “A lot of testosterone going on out there right now. They’re very competitive and there’s been some heated scuffles out there, but we know what it’s going to be. It feels like it’s a little animosity in the air with us right now.”