Nowitzki, Michael Finley and new sixth-man Jerry Stackhouse each scored 19 points Wednesday night, and Dallas improved to 2-0 with a 106-91 victory that tarnished Byron Scott’s debut as the New Orleans Hornets’ head coach.
“You get a Stackhouse and a (Jason) Terry coming off the bench—that’s amazing. Not a lot of teams have that,” Nowitzki said. “We have a great luxury … the deep bench is going to win us a lot of games this year.”
“We’re just guys who are committed to winning,” Terry said. “You’ve got guys like myself and Stackhouse who’ve come from losing situations. We want to do whatever it takes to win. Any little sacrifice—we’re here to make it. It definitely showed out there tonight.”
In its first game as a Western Conference team, New Orleans committed 17 turnovers, leading to 23 Dallas points. When the Hornets started tossing up desperation 3-pointers and creating fast-break opportunities, the Mavericks took advantage.
Dallas had 17 fast-break points, including two dunks by Nowitzki in the second half.
“Not very good,” Scott said. “All the things we have been working on … it just seemed to go out the window. Obviously we can rectify it, but I’m still disappointed in the way we came out.”
The Mavericks, coming off a season-opening victory over Sacramento a night earlier, shot 54 percent. Finley was 8-of-13 in 25 minutes. The only reason he didn’t play more was because Stackhouse was so good coming off the bench, Dallas coach Don Nelson said.
“The depth of the team showed tonight and I didn’t have to burn Finley out,” Nelson said. “He was having a great game. I normally would have played him 40 minutes tonight, but Stackhouse came in and was a dominant player. I thought he was going to be a great sixth man and he has been.”
Stackhouse, who said since being acquired from Washington that he would accept a reserve role, was beaming after the game.
“I love my team. I’m enjoying this role. I’m able to come in and just play my game,” he said.
Dallas began the second half with an 8-2 run, then didn’t let their lead dip below six points despite the best efforts of Davis, who had 13 points in the third quarter.
Davis finished one drive with a leaning, off-balance scoop to make the score 66-60, but Dampier responded with a short jumper and Finley hit from 20 feet to get the lead back to 10 points.
The end of the quarter belonged to Nowitzki, who hit a straightaway 3, made a steal and finished a break with a dunk to give Dallas an 83-69 lead entering the final period.
The Mavericks led 39-37 with 4:31 left in the first half when Finley ignited an 11-3 run with a driving layup. Dallas scored on nine of its last 11 possessions of the half to build a 54-45 lead at intermission.
The Hornets have lost their last 10 regular-season games against the Mavericks, who handed them their first season-opening loss in six years. … Rookie Devin Harris got the start in front of Terry. He scored two points. … The Hornets unveiled their new third jerseys, which they call “Mardi Gras gold.” They normally wear white at home with teal numbers and purple and gold trim. Dallas wore white instead of its traditional road blue. … Although rookie J.R. Smith was among the Hornets’ scoring leaders while starting for the then-injured Wesley (right hamstring) during the preseason, Wesley got the start. Smith made his regular-season debut with 2:52 to go in the first quarter. The 19-year-old player had six points in 15 minutes.