Friday, December 14, 2007

Mixing it up to down Hornets

The combinations were different. The substitution patterns tweaked. The Mavericks shook some things up Friday night and out tumbled a win.

It wasn’t always pretty. The Hornets made their runs. There were defensive breakdowns and offensive bog downs for Dallas. The reigning MVP never found his shot.

But the good outweighed the bad, as the Mavs outlasted Southwest Division rival New Orleans 89-80 two weeks after falling in overtime in the Big Easy. Jason Terry scored a game-high 25 for Dallas, which has won three of its last four.

“I thought for most of the game we executed the game plan,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. “We executed our system. They missed some shots, but we were very competitive tonight. Lots of energy.”

Especially defensively. After torturing Dallas a couple weeks back, Chris Paul was held in relative check. David West and Peja Stojakovic – 17 combined points – were shut down. The Hornets as a team were held to 36-percent shooting and the 80 points allowed were the fewest given up since Portland hit the same number Nov. 30.

Jerry Stackhouse typified the basket-protecting effort with a game-turning third-quarter block. With the score tied at 54-all – the Hornets had just taken the lead moments earlier – New Orleans jitterbug Bobby Jackson broke away from an apparent easy layup.

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