Mavs' Small Lineup Nets Big Win

Go figure. The Mavs lose five in-a-row mostly at home to Lottery-bound opponents and then promptly go on the road and whip the hottest team in the NBA.

Felt like a temporary stay of execution rather than a season saver, but the win in Charlotte Monday night at least reminded us of what we’ve thought all along – when the Mavs are good they can be really good.

Head coach Rick Carlisle tweaked his slumping team’s lineup, and boy did it work. Substituting center Zaza Pachulia for guard Raymond Felton, the Mavs were quicker and more active. They built a 19-point halftime lead, withstood a furious Hornets’ rally and hung on for one of their biggest wins of the season.

“This was huge,” said Chandler Parsons, who led Dallas with 24 points. “We’re fighting for our playoff lives.”

The Mavs had lost five straight and the Hornets had won seven in-a-row entering the game, but Dallas was the more aggressive and clearly the better team for most of the night.

After squandering the big lead and staring loss No. 6 in the face with the Cavs and Warriors next on the schedule, the Mavs counted on – guess who? – to bail them out yet again.

Charlotte led 73-71 early in the fourth when Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. It gave Dallas back the lead, and sparked an 18-6 run capped by two long triples from Parsons.

I still think, ultimately, the Mavs’ season is a lost cause. But if they make something out of this mess, we’ll remember the night in Charlotte when they salvaged what would have been a devastating loss into a breath-of-fresh-air win.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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