DALLAS – Wesley Matthews had two words to explain the exemplary way he’s shot the ball lately after he experienced more than his share of struggles this season.
"I’m stubborn,’’ the Dallas Mavericks’ shooting guard said.
Matthews’ stubbornness has definitely paid dividends lately.
The seven-year veteran entered Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic with 22 field goals in 46 attempts over a four-game span. Matthews added to that total Tuesday when he converted 8-of-12 shots and scored a game-high 21 points as the Mavs ran away from and beat the Magic, 121-108, at American Airlines Center.
Matthews is not the type who believes a defender can consistently stop him from getting his points. That’s not in his DNA.
"I’m one of those guys where you’re going to have to prove it to me over and over,’’ Matthews said. "It’s part of the reason I am where I am right now, and also part of the reason why I continue to grow as a person and basketball player.’’
Coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged that Matthews’ field goal shooting has improved because of the quality of shots he’s taken lately. He also said Matthews is shooting better because he’s on the tail end of his recovery from the left Achilles surgery he underwent last March while he was still playing for the Portland Trail Blazers.
"It’s really the kind of shots that he’s getting -- he’s been getting better ones,’’ Carlisle said. "As time goes on, any new player to a system is going to find his way better and better as the season progresses.
"I think it’s a combination of those things. Wes, he’s getting more and more rhythm, more and more condition, and more and more in the final stages of his recovery.’’
Matthews scored 13 of his points in the second quarter, which ended with the Mavs nursing a 69-61 lead. A notorious shooter who lives at the 3-point arc, Matthews has even been posting up more lately.
"I think over the last 15-20 games there were a lot more than there were in the first 15 or 20 games,’’ Carlisle said. "It’s not like he’s in a situation where he’s the go-to guy to start the game.
"What we need to do is go to him when he has really good matchups in the post, create good matchups with transition switches when we get the point guard switched on (Matthews). Our recognition has been good there and we need him to be one of our toughest guys and one of our leaders on the defensive end.’’
Carlisle said Matthews is "totally different’’ and "really kind of opposite’’ from Monta Ellis, the Mavs’ starting shooting guard the last two years.
"He’s more of a post-up guy and outside guy who can generate things off of the threat of the shot,’’ Carlisle said of Matthews. "Monta’s really a ball handling two-guard.
"That’s not to say Wes can’t handle the ball, because he can. But their size is different and their style of play is much different.’’
Matthews’ shooting spree started with the opener of this season-high six-game home stand when he scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting during a 129-103 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers. After slipping to a 15-point 5-of-16 shooting output against Oklahoma City, Matthews bounced back to score 17 points on 4-of-8 shots against Denver, and added 15 points on a 5-of-10 showing against Minnesota, before adding his sterling performance against the Magic.
"If I’m not shooting well, I am going to convince myself that I’m going to make it and get out of the slump by making it,’’ Matthews said. "Sometimes it doesn’t always work like that.
"And during the Philadelphia game I was able to get to the block, get some touches there, see the ball go in and get a flow for the game.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com