Mavericks, Hornets hope to build off recent strong performances

NBA Basketball

The highs and lows of the season have been apparent for the Dallas Mavericks — and they’re just a week into their season.

There have been similar developments for the Charlotte Hornets.

Both teams hold 1-2 records going into Wednesday night’s game in Dallas for the Mavericks’ home opener.

“Everybody should clear their heads,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, figuring the opening stretch of games shouldn’t define the season by any measure.

Each team is coming off its best performance.

The Mavericks destroyed the Los Angeles Clippers 124-73 on Sunday, building a 50-point halftime lead for the largest midway margin in NBA history.

The Hornets finally displayed segments of stingy defense, resulting in a 106-104 home victory against the Brooklyn Nets.

“Proud of our defense,” Hornets forward Gordon Hayward said. “We finally got it together at that end.”

They’ll have to do it again against a high-powered Dallas team, which rang up a 77-27 halftime bulge on the Clippers.

The Mavericks are continuing to mesh newcomer Josh Richardson, who arrived via a draft-day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, with the core of the team. Richardson posted 21 points in 27 minutes against the Clippers.

Carlisle said Richardson, who has averaged 16.7 points per game and has hit at an 8-for-20 rate on 3-point attempts, is a good fit with standout Luka Doncic.

“They respect each other as players, and there’s chemistry that’s building each game,” the coach said.

Dallas also received an optimistic sign Tuesday in the rehab of Kristaps Porzingis, who was a full practice participant for the first time since sustaining meniscus damage in his right knee during the first round of the playoffs in mid-August.

“if felt good out here,” Porzingis told reporters. “I just want to get back in the rhythm of playing with contact. I still feel I have some ways to go.”

In Hayward, the Hornets are liking the adjustment shown by a player who was added to the roster last month in a sign-and trade with the Boston Celtics

“It has been a process,” Hayward said. “We have a lot of room for growth.”

Hayward compiled 28 points and seven assists in the triumph against Brooklyn. He seems to have gelled quickly with former Celtics teammate Terry Rozier.

The Hornets opened the season with losses to Cleveland and Oklahoma City. Coach James Borrego said the latest result is bound to be a boost.

“It can turn in one game,” he said of the confidence needed to succeed.

Dallas is expected to be a strong team. The showing against the Clippers was noteworthy.

“We showed who we really are, but it’s a long season,” Doncic said.

The status of Hornets forward P.J. Washington might be uncertain as he left late in Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. Washington, who practiced Tuesday, leads the team with 7.3 rebounds per game.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no fans for at least the first two home games for Dallas.

“Right now we’ve got to adapt and we’ve got to find ways to come together as a team in a very difficult beginning of the season with the schedule,” Carlisle said.

The Mavericks will want to focus on this game without looking ahead to Friday’s matchup with the Miami Heat in an encounter that will cap a stretch of Dallas playing the two 2020 NBA finalists across a four-game stretch. The Mavericks lost on Christmas Day to the Los Angeles Lakers.

–Field Level Media

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