Lamar Odom made his first start of the season in place of the injured Dirk Nowitzki who missed the game because of a sore knee. After the game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised the play of Odom and said that now that he was starting it would be an opportunity for him to improve his conditioning with extra minutes. Perhaps those extra minutes will help Odom to find some sort of offensive rhythm with the Mavericks.
"I liked the way Lamar played," Carlisle said. "We're a running team and with him starting and getting more minutes, this is an opportunity for him to get in the habit of running and to raise his level of conditioning.
Odom finished the game with 16 points and four rebounds in just under 26 minutes of action. Carlisle also praised his team's play without Nowitzki citing that they got contributions from several different guys in the game.
"We had to get productivity from a lot of different guys," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had to get a level of competitiveness and hard play from top to bottom. It's a great win. This has been a very, very hard place for us to win."
The Dallas Mavericks currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 10-7 record. That places them with a half game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers and the suddenly red hot Houston Rockets. After defeating the Hornets on Saturday, the Mavericks will open a three-game home stand against Phoenix, Minnesota and Utah. Dirk Nowitzki is expected to miss all of those games with a sore knee.
A quick look at the Southwest Division shows the Mavericks tied for second with the San Antonio Spurs and only percentage points behind Memphis for the division lead. Given the Mavericks rough start to the season head coach Rick Carlisle has to be pleased but keeping that pace up if Nowitzki's injury lingers could become a challenge.
The Dallas Mavericks were without starting forward Dirk Nowitzki who is going to miss four games due to a knee injury, and the Mavericks could have used Nowitzki tonight as they squeaked past the New Orleans Hornets 83-81. The loss for the Hornets was their seventh straight defeat.
Lamar Odom got his first start of the year since Nowitzki was out and scored 16 points in the Mavericks in the win. The 16 points tied for the team lead with Delonte West.
The first two quarters had the Mavericks leading after one by four points and then the Hornets were able to tie the game at the half at 41 points apiece. The third quarter is where the Mavericks thought they had the game won as they outscored the Horneds by 11 after three quarters, but the Hornets made a comeback in the fourth quarter and almost pulled off the upset.
The Hornets got within one point with 14 seconds left in the game, but the Mavericks made their next four free throws with a dunk by the Hornets Carly Landry in between to give the Mavericks a three point lead. The Hornets had one chance to tie the game when Jarrett Jack made his first free throw to cut the Mavericks lead to two and then he purposely missed the second to give the Hornets a chance to tie the game. There was one second left on the intentional miss but the Hornets were unable to get off a shot off, and with that miss it secured the win for the Mavericks.
"I'm having trouble bending my knees," said Nowitzki, who has been wearing a protective sleeve over the knee, the same one he sprained last season and caused him to miss nine games. "I've just got to get my legs stronger, get my base back. I've got to use my legs in my shot and hopefully they'll come back soon."
"It's OK, better than it was three weeks ago, so that's very good," Nowitzki said. "But, it's still just stiff and I can't move the way I want to, but it will be OK. I'm going to keep on working, get a stronger base, get my legs strong where they were in June and hopefully I'll be back to my normal self."
Dirk was not very aggressive in the second half of Dallas' win over Utah on Thursday night, attempting only one field goal in the fourth quarter while being used mainly as a decoy on the three-point line.
He may have to be given a few games off in order to get himself fully comfortable, as the condensed 66-game regular season means there are very few breaks for players to rest between games.