Dallas had its best defensive performance of the season in Saturday’s 90-68 rout of Atlanta, and followed that up with a 123-94 demolition of the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
Josh Howard had career highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds as the Mavericks opened a 39-point halftime lead against New York and never looked back.
“We really came out hard. We really want to set ourselves apart again with the best of the West,” Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
Nowitzki scored 23 points, all in the first half, and Michael Finley added 21 in what was easily the Mavericks’ most lopsided victory of the season.
Just three days earlier, Dallas limited Atlanta to 28 first-half points as it held an opponent below 78 for the first time this season.
Yet, the Hawks are looking forward to facing the Mavericks again.
“If you’re a team and you have pride, you should want to play them again just to redeem yourself,” said former Dallas forward Antoine Walker, who scored just 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting for Atlanta on Saturday.
“Because we’re much better than what we showed. We’ve just gotta stop playing bad basketball.”
Atlanta has lost five straight games, and has had little to be positive about of late other than the continued development of rookie Josh Smith.
The 6-foot-9 forward blocked an NBA season-high 10 shots against Dallas on Saturday, which was two more than the entire Mavericks team.
Smith also became the third player in NBA history to have blocked shots in double figures without any personal fouls. The others were Toronto’s Keon Clark on March, 23, 2001 and Seattle’s Calvin Booth last Jan. 13.
Smith is averaging a team-leading 1.48 rejections per game, which is third among NBA rookies and 20th in the NBA.