Mayo, new Mavs shooting straight waiting for Dirk
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
DALLAS — O.J. Mayo and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks newcomers are getting into quite a groove while waiting for Dirk Nowitzki, even though they don’t always know exactly what they’re going to do next.
With what Mayo best described as organized street ball, the Mavericks have shot better than 60 percent from the field in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. And that came in the first two home games for Mayo and eight other first-year Mavericks.
“It’s crazy, man,” said Mayo, who marked his 25th birthday Monday night with his second consecutive 30-point game. “We have spots that needed to be filled on the court. After that, it’s pretty much where the ball goes — we react. It’s constant movement, non-stop basketball. … It’s hard to scout stuff like that.”
After decisive victories over Charlotte and Portland, the Mavericks (3-1) play their third consecutive home game Wednesday night against Toronto.
Against the Raptors, the second game in a row against a team coached by a former Dallas assistant, the Mavericks will be without Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. They are the only two players left who were on the floor when Dallas won the NBA title just two years ago.
The team said Tuesday that Marion would miss at least three games with a sprained left knee ligament. The forward, who left midway through the third quarter of Monday’s game, won’t play against Toronto or make the trip later this week for games at New York and Charlotte. He will be re-evaluated next week.
Nowitzki, the 11-time All-Star and former MVP, is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 19, the first surgery in his 15 NBA seasons.
“Obviously, he’s our franchise player,” Mayo said. “With him going down, we understand that all the guys have to step up and play that much harder and when he does get here, we’re ready to roll.”
The newbies are doing pretty good so far.
Darren Collison, acquired in a trade from Indiana to replace departed popular point guard Jason Kidd, has consecutive double-doubles, including 14 points with 13 assists and only one turnover in a 114-91 win over the Trail Blazers on Monday night.
New 7-foot center Chris Kaman, who missed the first two games with a strained right calf, has scored 16 points in both of the home games while making 16 of 19 shots.
“We don’t really have a set thing. We play off each other,” Kaman said.
After being unable to persuade free agent Deron Williams to come home this offseason, owner Mark Cuban and the Mavs took a different approach to building their roster around Nowitzki — even if just for this season. They have a bunch of players with one-year deals while keeping financial flexibility for next summer.
Part of that money may go to some of the players they already have if they keep playing like this.
“Mark didn’t just bring in new pieces. He brought in guys who can play,” Collison said. “O.J. had a lot of experience in Memphis. Elton Brand is an experienced veteran guy who can guy. Chris Kaman, you guys know about Chris Kaman and his experience. I had the chance to get playoff exposure in Indiana too.
“Even though me and O.J. are young, we had a lot of exposure coming into the season. We all know how to play off each other.”
In their home opener Saturday night against Charlotte, after splitting road games against the Lakers and Utah, the Mavs were 61.3 percent (49 of 80) from the field — the team’s best shooting effort in three years. They bettered that against Portland, shooting 61.5 percent (48 of 78).
“I think everybody is playing unselfish, moving the ball. We have a lot of good shooters. We have some of the best pick-and-pop bigs,” Collison said. “It’s only going to be better when Dirk gets back.”
Mayo spent the first four seasons of his career in Memphis, where as a rookie in 2008-09 he had consecutive 30-point games three different times. Before his home debut in Dallas, the third overall pick from the 2008 draft hadn’t had a 30-point game since November 2009 and was 7-for-22 shooting in his first two games with the Mavericks.
At home with Dallas, he’s made 22 of 35 shots (63 percent) including 13 of 18 on 3-pointers.
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work,” said Mayo, who after starting every game his first two seasons became Memphis’ primary sixth man. “Just trust what I do, and do what I trust.”
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