'It's a harder game,' Rick Carlisle said Monday before taking on a team-in-transit in Sacto. 'These…
It's a four-quarter game. Or at least that's what everybody preaches. But Tuesday at the AAC, one good quarter was enough to beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 89-82 - and for the Dallas Mavericks, that one good quarter arrived just in time.
"Just in time'' in the sense that the quality quarter was manufactured in the form of the fourth quarter, and you know, any later than that wouldn't have worked out.
And "just in time'' in the sense that the Mavs entered this game having lost four of the last five games while also having defeated Charlotte in 15 of the last 16 meetings ... and a failure here would have represented an awful lull for a team that is now at 11-8 and considers itself a contender in the deep Western Conference.
"We talked about it a little bit during timeouts that we needed to get things going,'' Dirk Nowitzki said. "This was a big game for us with us about to hit the road for a lot of tough games. This game tonight was definitely one we wanted to have and not travel and sit on this 'L.'
As always after Mavs victories, a Player of the Game is selected. Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? You vote here! Your top candidates? Surely Nowitzki (25 points) and Monta Ellis (22 points), who scored the final 19 points for Dallas. That pair carried the load in a late rally by double-handedly outscoring the entire Bobcats team 19-to-9 over the last five minutes of a game that, for the first 43 minutes, the Mavs had no business winning.
"Those guys did a great job scoring the ball down the stretch and we were getting really good stops,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "Our first and fourth quarters were very solid, our second and third quarters were very poor. We're lucky to survive it, but it's the kind of game we totally expected it to be, so there's no surprise."
We think Carlisle might be stretching it to view anything but the final quarter as a success. Dallas managed just 39 first-half points to trail by three, was behind 54-42 with nine minutes left in the third, and began the final period down 67-60 when the quarter ended.
(See more quotes from Carlisle, Dirk and Monta here.)
Nowitzki was among the culprits for the slow start as he made just one of his 10 first-half shots. Jose Calderon (ankle) was a game-time decision but started and contributed 12 points.
For Charlotte, Al Jefferson scored 19 points, and Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker had 16 apiece, none of it enough to prevent the Mavs from moving to 10-0 in all-time home games against Charlotte -- the worst record in the league for one team against another.
That it didn't take four quarters to beat the Bobcats says something about them, to be sure. But that Dallas only managed one good quarter against Charlotte says something unflattering about where the Mavs are right now, too.