Sure thing, guys. It had to be something else that turned the Dallas Mavericks from "soft" one night to as dominant as they've been all season the next.
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Nowitzki scored 23 points, Shawn Marion added 22 while playing with ribs so sore he wasn't sure if he would play a half hour before tipoff and Jason Terry had 21 and the Mavericks ended a string of disappointing games with a 127-109 rout of the New York Knicks on Thursday night.
"You can't win them all so you have to come back the next day and compete and that's what we did today," Nowitzki said. "We didn't run away with it, but at least we didn't let them right back in it. We were still able to close it out, so it was definitely a good win."
In the three previous games, Dallas let a pair of big leads melt into one-point losses and narrowly beat lowly Minnesota. Carlisle was so frustrated that he dropped the s-word on his club after a loss to New Orleans on Wednesday night. It's especially damning for a club that's often been described that way while seeing a decade of 50-victory seasons result in zero championships.
Carlisle obviously did it to see how his club would respond. He had to like the answer: season highs for points in a quarter (41), half (72) and game. The 18-point margin of victory was a point shy of their best, and it came against a New York club that had won three in a row.
"A win is a great response, to anything," Marion said. "What more can you ask? No reason to dwell on it. ... We all get caught up in the heat of the moment at times. That's what he felt at the time. You've just got to learn from it and do it."
Carlisle was pleased.
"I thought we really attacked," he said. "Overall, I thought it was a really good effort, and it was a good win for us."
The Mavs needed this not only to scrub the bitter taste of the past few days, but also to reboot for what's coming next: the Lakers on Saturday night in a showdown for second place in the Western Conference (Dallas has a 1½ game lead), followed by games at Portland and Golden State, then at home against the rival Spurs.
New York's Amar'e Stoudemire scored 36 points while playing through a bruised left shoulder sustained in the opening minutes. Despite needing ice during timeouts, he scored 18 points in the third quarter to prevent the Mavericks from pulling away.
He also picked up his 16th technical foul, which would trigger an automatic one-game suspension if it's upheld. It was a marginal call, so it could become the third time this season he gets a tech revoked by the league office.
"I feel confident they can rescind it," he said. "We laughed about it later and the official agreed with us it wasn't that bad. ... We got tangled up, that's it."
"It's one of those things, and we were just tired at the start," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Amare was huge in the second half. There was no quit in him. He played. But they just beat us."
Dallas blew an 18-point lead at home Sunday against Memphis, then let a seven-point lead get away in the final minute against the Hornets. This time, the lead peaked at 26 midway through the third quarter and was cut in half within a few minutes. The Mavs regained control, however.
They showed plenty of feistiness on both ends of the court, from newly added reserve Corey Brewer making a pair of backcourt steals -- the first leading to a powerful dunk -- to Jason Kidd turning an errant pass headed out of bounds into a three-point play for Brendan Haywood.
Dallas' defense limited the Knicks to making 43 percent of their shots. The Mavs made 51 percent. Their effort showed up in other areas, too, such as 30 second-chance points and grabbing 10 more rebounds.
Marion was a surprise starter, both because Carlisle likes him coming off the bench and because he hurt his ribs while absorbing a flagrant foul the night before. He made 10 of 15 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in 30 minutes.
Nowitzki was only 7 of 19, but added nine rebounds. Rodrigue Beaubois had 14 points and six assists. Haywood had 12 points and eight rebounds in extended playing time because Chandler got in foul trouble. Chandler still added nine points and eight rebounds.
- This capped a stretch of four games in five days for Dallas, seven games in 10 days for New York.
- The Knicks have lost 17 of 19 to the Mavericks and 10 of 11 in Dallas.
- Knicks guard Chauncey Billups missed a sixth consecutive game because of a bruised left thigh. "We're hopeful he can get a practice on Saturday and then go on Sunday," D'Antoni said.
- Dallas F Peja Stojakovic (stiff neck) missed a second successive game.
- Mavs owner Mark Cuban said the Denver Nuggets might be better off without Anthony. The Knicks are 6-4 since the blockbuster trade.