That fresh new lineup the Dallas Mavericks used Monday in Charlotte worked wonders, as the Mavericks got out of town with a 107-96 victory over the red-hot Hornets.
The question now: How soon will Mavs fans see that lineup again?
Coach Rick Carlisle started guard Raymond Felton in place of center Zaza Pachulia against the Hornets so Dallas could have more quickness, better spacing and another ballhandler on the floor. The other starters were guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, and forwards Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki.
It’s not known if that same quintet will start again at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the Mavericks (34-33) play the Cleveland Cavaliers (47-19) at Quicken Loans Arena.
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“Everything’s on the table,” Carlisle said. “I’ll look at it. We’ll see.”
Williams likes the additional spacing an extra guard on the floor gives the Mavericks.
I think we’ve got to be flexible with what we’re doing and adjust from night to night and we’ve got to find ways to win.
Dirk Nowitzki on the use of a small lineup
“I feel like not only the last five games, but even before that our spacing has been really bad,” Williams said. “It’s clogging things up, it’s making us stagnant and it’s hurting our flow and our rhythm to the game. We stressed getting to the corners, running hard and getting to the corners, spacing-wise. A couple of other little things here and there to open some things up. Just a conscious effort.”
That conscious effort enabled Dallas to snap a season-high five-game losing streak.
“It just gave us a little boost, a little energy,” said Parsons, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and three steals against the Hornets. “It was nothing against Zaza — he’s been great for us all season long — but clearly something wasn’t working.
“I’m not saying it’s Zaza. I think it was just good to get a change and it definitely paid off.”
Nowitzki started at center against the Hornets and acquitted himself well. The Hornets’ top two centers — Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson — combined to score only eight points on 1-of-6 shooting after Jefferson scored a season-high 31 points on 15-of-18 shooting when Charlotte beat the Mavs in Dallas 108-94 on Nov. 5.
“I think there are some nights the small lineups are great and there’s some nights it’s just not going to work,” Nowitzki said. “I think we’ve got to be flexible with what we’re doing and adjust from night to night and we’ve got to find ways to win.
It was a big win for us. It’s a sense of relief to get that monkey off our backs.
Raymond Felton on the Mavericks snapping a five-game losing streak.
“That’s what we did earlier in the year. We’re a veteran team that’s got to close games better than we have lately and just find ways to win with whatever lineup we throw out there.”
More than anything, the Mavericks have to keep winning to stay ahead of the Utah Jazz in the hotly contested playoff race. The Jazz (32-35) upset the Cavs in Utah on Monday 94-85 and are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings — two games behind Dallas.
So, if nothing else, with the help of that small lineup, at least the Mavericks didn’t lose any ground to the Jazz.
“It was a big win for us,” said Felton, who scored nine points, three steals and a season-high 12 assists. “It’s a sense of relief to get that monkey off our backs.”
The Mavericks also won the rebounding battle against the Hornets 42-40. Only time will tell if they can get away with playing a small lineup against a long and rangy team such as the Cavaliers.
“We just had really good energy, focus and togetherness,” Carlisle said. “We were playing relatively small, so we needed everybody to be very vigilant about being on the boards.
“We have to play the persistence game. That’s our best chance to win.”
Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice
Mavericks at Cavaliers
6 tonight, FSSW