Previewing Mavs' Meeting With 8-0 Hornets

The Mavs made themselves a promise: Be even more effective as a home team than they are as a road team. Three games in a row now, the promise has been fulfilled. Next up? Tonight's visit from the 8-0 Hornets. has your Mavs-Hornets preview … all the news and views and insight you need, including a sad pregame thought from Chris Paul. …

UPDATED at 615pm The media just spoke to Carlisle and just spoke to Caron Butler ... Check this thread on Boards for the full quotes.

ITEM: Chris Paul's Family Tragedy -- Moments ago, a tweet from Oneandonlycp3

Nov 15, 2002...8yrs ago 2day my grandfather was murdered by 5 teenagers...We LOVE YOU n MISS you Papa...evrything happens 4 a reason I guess

ITEM: No Place Like Home -- It is a run that began last Feb. 19 in Orlando against the powerful Magic with a 95-85 win. It is a run that continued Wednesday in Memphis against the "pesky'' Grizzlies with that crushing 106-91 win:

The Mavericks have now won 13 of their last 15 road games, including eight straight successes.

On the plus side, those numbers speak to mental toughness, among many other things.

On the minus side … now you gotta do the same thing at home – where it's supposed to be easier. That didn't work for Dallas in its two early homies, turnover-pockmarked "giveaways'' to Memphis and Denver.

But now? Suddenly, Dallas has now won three straight at home. Boston, Memphis and Philly.

And here comes tonight's visit from CP3 and the Hornets.

ITEM: In Praise of Paul – Rick Carlisle is reluctant to express "surprise'' at the Hornets' 8-0 start. He heaped praise on young coach Monte Williams as a key reason. But he also got to the core of N.O.'s success.

"When Chris Paul is healthy, he's a top-five player in the NBA,'' Rick says. "There's never been any question about that.''

ITEM: How Far Can N.O. Go? – How for-real are the Hornets? If you are a point-differential guy, you are a believer.

Rick Carlisle is a believer.

"They are the top team in the league right now,'' Rick says, "not only in terms of their record, but their (point) differential is massive, almost as good as the Lakers' (at 10.4).''

New Orleans' point-differential is at an elite-level 9.38.

"For real'' can be established against Dallas in these two games in two days. But even if the Hornets split, let's say, they still seemed destined for continued immediate success. Assume a split with the Mavs. Then on Friday they get the Cavaliers. After that, a roadie back-to-back at Sacramento and LAC. Angeles Clippers.

Projection? The Hornets get to Thanksgiving with a 12-1 record.

That's real enough.

ITEM: A Defense-First Game -- Dallas' defense seems re-made, in large part due to the addition of defensive "heart-and-soul guy'' Tyson Chandler.

The Hornets are in the same category.

Okafor is a shot-challenging defensive force. Paul is a steal machine. West is a bull (and has the foul-prone rep to prove it). And Ariza is a legit stopper.

Little wonder the Hornets are statistically impressive.

The two best teams in the NBA in FG-percent defense?

One is Dallas.

Two is New Orleans.

The Hornets' points against? They hold foes to 89.8 points a game, good for second-best in the league.

Third in the NBA in that category? Dallas at 91.5 points a game.

First team to 92 points wins!

ITEM: The Starting Lineups -- The Mavs have a decision or two to make. It'll be PG Jason Kidd, PF Dirk Nowitzki (his ankle somehow completely fine) and C Tyson Chandler, TC planning to perform at an inspired level against his former mates. From there? The domino effect comes from the call on Tuff Juice. If Caron (back spasms) is not healthy, the Mavs will likely play Shawn Marion at the 3 and stick with DeShawn Stevenson at the 2.

That group works, by the way. Especially for ‘Trix, who in the last two games as a starter in Butler's stead has made 18 of 26 shots for 20 and 16 points, respectively … and two victories.

The noon-time word from Caron?

"I went through the practice (Sunday) and pretty much did everything,'' he said. "So we'll see. I did some things (this morning in shootaround). There was a little tightness. I want to be 100 percent before I step back out here so I don't (re-aggravate the injury). ... so it doesn't happen again.

"There's no rush,'' Caron added, "but I want to be out there. You want to be out there playing in a big game, against an

As for the Hornets? Their starting lineup will look like this:

SG Marco Belinelli- 11.9 points.

SF: Trevor Ariza- 10.3 points, five rebounds, 1.75 steals.

PF: David West- 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds.

C: Emeka Okafor- 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds.

And last but as far from "least'' as it gets:

PG Chris Paul- 17 points, 10.3 assts, 2.75 steals, 5.4 rebounds.

Throw in his 5-to-1 turnovers-to-assists ratio and his team's 8-0 record and CP3 is your "1/10th of the Season MVP.''

ITEM: The Closing Quote: "It's a long season. They've gotten off to a good start, but there's a lot of basketball to be played. The way the schedule sets up now we have New Orleans twice, so it's kind of a playoff situation when you play one team twice in a row so we're looking forward to that challenge.'' – Jason Kidd.

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