The Dallas Mavericks didn’t panic and stayed the course.
That was the message during a two-day lull between Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and Wednesday night’s 113-92 blowout win in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The message meant sticking with supposedly overmatched point guard Jose Calderon and resisting any urge to replace him with backup Devin Harris heading into Game 2.
Calderon rewarded the Mavericks’ and coach Rick Carlisle’s faith and patience with a sizzling performance at the AT&T Center.
The Mavericks ended a 10-game losing streak to the Spurs while tying the series at 1-1 with Game 3 in Dallas on Saturday.
Calderon scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting while dishing five assists with no turnovers.
“I didn’t know they were saying that,” Calderon said. “We never talk about it in the locker room. I never felt their confidence wasn’t there. You are going to have bad games. I’m not worried about that. I’ve just got to keep doing my job. The shots went in. I felt comfortable.”
Calderon missed his first four shots in the Game 1 loss, eventually going 3 of 9 for only seven points while playing just 16 minutes.
He didn’t start well Wednesday night, going 0 for 3 in the first half.
But again, Calderon didn’t lose the faith, and the Mavericks stayed with him.
It was Calderon who helped blow the game open in the third quarter, when he scored all 12 of his points on 5-of-7 shooting. His spark included a 7-0 stretch of his own to give the Mavericks an 81-69 lead with 2:42 left in the period.
The Mavericks never looked back after that, leading by 13 after three quarters and winning by 21.
“I couldn’t make a shot the other day,” said Calderon, who played his customary 28 minutes in the game. “I couldn’t make one in the first half today. But they are my shots. It was nothing different. You keep shooting and being aggressive. It felt great when they finally went in in the third quarter. It gives you more confidence.”
It wasn’t just Calderon as Harris had another superb night off the bench, scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes of play. He had 19 points and five assists in 32 minutes of action in Game 1.
Harris said when he and Calderon have it going together, they are a tough combo to beat.
“He had been struggling with his shot,” Harris said of Calderon. “We kept telling him to stay aggressive. He is one of our better shooters. Our guard rotation is strong. This is what everybody envisioned when they put this together this summer.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban likes the new attitude of transparency in the NBA. The NBA has begun acknowledging bad calls or officiating mistakes following games even though it doesn’t alter the outcome.
Cuban believes it the first step in accountability, allowing NBA to get the calls right initially in the future while helping eliminate the talk of conspiracy and rigged games.
“I’m happy with what they’re doing,” Cuban said before Wednesday’s playoff game against the Spurs. “We’re not allowed to talk about any specifics of it — you have to ask the league about that. But I think we’ve made huge steps. You can always improve, but you’ve got to take that first step before you can improve. With transparency you get rid of that conspiracy theories, and that’s the whole goal. And you want to send the message that we get them right too, because we do.”
There was a time when Cuban was Villain No. 1 in San Antonio to Spurs fans and citizens alike. He not only trashed the Spurs, but he also had the nerve to rip the city’s famed River Walk.
But these days, San Antonians have been kinder to Cuban partly because the success of his popular television show Shark Tank has made many of them forget he was still the owner of the Mavs.
Cuban learned as much during a walk to the pharmacy earlier this week when fans came up to him talking Shark Tank and not basketball.
“A lot of them were like, ‘What are you doing in town?’ ” Cuban recalled with a smile. “No one talks basketball to me. Everybody loves Shark Tank. It was crazy. I walked down to Walgreens, and 90 percent of the people said, ‘What are you doing in town?’ ”