DALLAS – This turned out to be one of those tremendously bittersweet nights for Charlie Villanueva.
The 10-year veteran poured in a season- and game-high 26 points Monday night for the Dallas Mavericks, while making more field goals (nine) than he has in any game this year. But it wasn’t nearly enough as the Los Angeles Clippers handed the injury-riddled Mavs a 115-98 defeat before a disappointing crowd of 20,082 at American Airlines Center.
Getting some substantial playing time after the Mavs lost Tyson Chandler (ankle) and Monta Ellis (hip) to injuries early in the first quarter, Villanueva responded by converting 9-of-13 shots, including 5-of-7 form beyond the 3-point arc.
"I just got the opportunity to make some shots and took advantage of it,’’ said Villanueva, who played 23 minutes. "My team did a good job finding me, but (the Mavs) fell short.
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"Two guys going down, especially two starters – Monta creates other opportunities for other guys. We just have to bounce back from this."
From Villanueva’s perspective, the Mavs sans Chandler and Ellis are like a car going down the tollway without wheels. But they are expecting to be without Chandler and Ellis when they host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
"Obviously it hurts when two of your main guys go down, but that's part of the game,’’ Villanueva said. "Every team goes through things like that, and like I said other people have to step up and be ready to play.
"(The Mavs were without) two of our main guys, more intense and emotional guys on the court. But we have a lot of veteran guys, a lot of capable defenders that need to step up and we need to get this win (against the Jazz) to go into the break.’’
The Mavs obviously like the production Villanueva gave them against the Clippers.
"He was great, he had a good rhythm right away,’’ Dirk Nowitzki said. "Since they played pretty much a small lineup, we went small for a lot of time and he was open a lot in our small lineups, and that’s what he does.
"He steps into shots, he’s one of the best 3-point shooters I’ve seen, he’s got a quick release and he looked great.’’
The 26 points Villanueva scored were the most points he’s scored in a game since Nov. 12, 2010 when he tallied 30 points against the Clippers while he was playing for the Detroit Pistons.
"My confidence has always been there,’’ Villanueva said. "I just went out there, made some shots.
"But my teammates were the ones that found me. I just made the shots I was supposed to make."