On Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks were unlucky enough to be scheduled with a back-to-back over yonder piggy-backing on a matchup with the Spurs (and loss to the Spurs) 24 hours earlier. This meeting against a spunky Charlotte Hornets team that currently sits at fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings had a bad vibe to it: The combination of a tough loss the night before, coupled with a demanding trip to the East coast, figured to make things very difficult for the Mavs ... and indeed, they failed to grab yet another opportunity, this time falling 97-87 to the Hornets, and falling to 3-15 on the year.
The Mavs got off to a rough start, scoring just 14 points in the first frame, and never really found their legs throughout the night. Dallas would shoot just 37.2 percent from the floor, and a dreadful 9-31 from three.
Harrison Barnes led all Mavs scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds, followed by Justin Anderson’s 15 points (with double-figure coming in four of his last five games), and Wes Matthews and Deron Williams both scoring 14 points each.
It was a tough night for Dallas, which was without Dirk and Bogut and Seth Curry, the latter absence forcing Jonathan Gibson into another extended role. Matthews, meanwhile, struggled big-time from the field, shooting just 4-15 and 1-11 from three. The wear and tear from the overnight trip for Wes became very evident as the game progressed, culminating late when he hit nothing but air on a late three-point attempt.
Matthews' struggles from the field came just one night after he chipped in a season-high 26 points against San Antonio.
The most controversial moment of the night came when Roy Hibbert tossed Salah Mejri to the ground when both players refused to let go of the ball on a rebound, causing a scrum below the basket, with Wes jumping on the pile as well. Hibbert was handed a tech on the play before action resumed.
The dagger for the Mavs came late in the fourth quarter when Kemba Walker (18 points on 7-19 shooting, but six below his average) hit a three with 41.9 seconds left to go, giving the Hornets an eight-point lead. Walker led all scorers for the night, as he continues to prove himself to be Michael Jordan’s best draft pick in his career as the leader of the Hornets franchise.
“Guys are battling,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "We’re hanging in, we’re giving ourselves chance, but we’ve just got to work through this period and get these guys full healthy. Get these guys full-speed and full minutes, our chances will be much greater.”
The Mavs, with a record that currently sits as the worst in the NBA, will return home to face arguably the two most hated men in Mavs history on Saturday night in Chicago's Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. Both have impacted the Mavs in their own way, but both earn equal hate in the eyes of Mavs fans everywhere, so the atmosphere in the American Airlines Center should be worth a look. If karma is a fair player, the Mavs might be in for a little bit of luck on Saturday night -- and they sure could use some.