The good news on top of the good win: Point guard Kemba Walker’s tight Achilles tendon isn’t a big concern for the Charlotte Bobcats.
“I don’t know about tomorrow,” coach Steve Clifford said following a 114-89 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, “but I don’t think it’s anything serious.”
Walker left this game in the fourth quarter. He was brought back to the training room and a doctor was called to check him out. The Bobcats (23-29) play the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night in their last game before All-Star break.
This was a spectacular victory when you consider the history between these two teams. The Mavericks had beaten the Bobcats 17 of 18 times, finally losing in Charlotte last season with superstar Dirk Nowitzki injured.
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Nowitzki played Tuesday, but he was limited to 16 points. He left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle, resulting from a collision with Bobcats power forward Josh McRoberts. Nowitzki started the second half, but within 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter the Bobcats led by 21.
The Mavericks (31-22) are among the NBA’s best offensive teams, ranking top-seven in points, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and 3-point percentage. But they’re pretty awful defensively. The Bobcats scored 60 points in the lane and totaled a franchise-best 42 assists off 45 made baskets.
McRoberts did a lot more than trip up Nowitzki. He finished with a career-high 13 assists and made three of four 3-point attempts.
This is about as efficient an offense as you’ll see the Bobcats run. They shot 54 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. Center Al Jefferson was his virtuoso self with 30 points off 14-of-23 shooting. Forward Anthony Tolliver was exceptional off the bench with 22 points and 5-of-10 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks don’t have much in the way of post defenders, with center Sam Dalembert getting old fast. They started double-teaming Jefferson immediately in this game, but never figured out how to slow the Bobcats’ attack.
“The defense had to pick-and-choose its poison,” said Jefferson, who had his seventh game this season of 30 or more points. “They could play me one-on-one. If they didn’t, then Josh had 3s or Kemba was” attacking.
Walker didn’t have a great shooting night (2-of-9), but he was on track for his second career triple-double before getting hurt. He finished the game with seven points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
“That’s a big win,” Jefferson said. “We wanted to at least go 2-of-3 (after the West Coast trip). Detroit is on our tails (for eighth place in the East). It was important we beat a good team.”
And then to validate that victory versus the Nets.
“We’ve got to make sure that All-Star break starts at 10 or 11 o’clock” Wednesday night, Jefferson concluded. “Not 7 o’clock.”