Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks develop swag, killer instinct while putting opponents away

After some hiccups earlier in the season, the Dallas Mavericks have learned how to put teams away.

Counting Monday’s 107-80 blowout win at Charlotte, the Mavs are walking around with a swagger after they won their third game of the season by 20 or more points.

Last year the Mavs won games by 20 or more points just three times the entire season.

“We’re just playing consistent, playing together and playing unselfish,” forward Chandler Parsons said. “We’re focusing on the defensive end.”

The Mavs (8-3) know they’ll need to connect defensively again at 6 p.m. Wednesday when they play the Washington Wizards (7-2) at the Verizon Center.

In addition to Monday’s lopsided win in Charlotte, the Mavs rolled over Utah 105-82 on Nov. 7 and Philadelphia 123-70 on Nov. 13 in the largest margin of victory in franchise history.

Forward Dirk Nowitzki praised the coaching staff.

“I think [coach] Rick [Carlisle] and obviously [assistant] coach Monte [Mathis] has a great defensive mind,” Nowitzki said. “They always put great game plans for us out there defensively.”

Earlier in the season, putting away teams wasn’t that easy.

On Oct. 30, the Mavs led Utah 65-35 with 2:58 remaining in the second quarter before winning 120-102. On Nov. 3, Dallas held a 63-32 lead over Boston with 4:07 left in the second period, and then was forced to hold 118-113.

And on Nov. 1, the Mavs lost a 17-point lead to New Orleans, but rallied to gain a 109-104 victory over the Pelicans.

Lately, though, the Mavs have developed a killer instinct, and an attitude more conducive to a team trying to win a championship.

“I think we were lacking that [killer instincts] early on,” Nowitzki said. “We got some nice leads going there early on, and the second half we weren’t great and we lost those leads.”

The blowouts have aided the Mavs on several fronts, including the need to rest veterans such as Nowitzki.

“We’re playing the right way and we’re doing things hard and collectively,” point guard Jameer Nelson said. “We have a little groove going and things going well for us offensively, and defensively we’re there for each other as a group and a unit. “We have to continue to do that — helping one another.”

That’s especially true when the defensive principles are being applied.

“It seems like we’ve always, since the season started, been great offensively, it’s just that we’ve had some lapses defensively,” center Tyson Chandler said. “So when you put the combination together, we’re a tough team.”

Harris questionable

Guard Devin Harris is questionable for the Wizards.

Harris played just 10 minutes in the first half of Monday’s game in Charlotte after leaving with soreness in his lower right leg.

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