“We thought we had control of all the game,” said Stackhouse, who had 24 points a night earlier in a comeback victory over Miami. “It was just inevitable we were going to have somewhat of a letdown, but I thought we did a good job of not doing that when it mattered.”
New Orleans’ last hope of getting back in the game came after the Hornets had trimmed their deficit, once as large as 21, to 13 midway through fourth quarter. Then Stackhouse buried an 18-foot fade with hands in his face to make it 85-70. Nowitzki followed with a 17-footer and the game was all but over.
“I’m really proud of our team tonight. It’s a tough back-to-back situation which we don’t make excuses for,” said interim coach Avery Johnson, filling in while Don Nelson recovers from rotator cuff surgery.
“Dampier is really coming on for us. He’s just keeping it really simple. He’s doing basically what we brought him to do,” Johnson said. “I think he was a little fatigued, you know, banging against Shaq and Eddie Jones and (Dwyane) Wade last night and then have to come here … that would take a lot out of anybody.”
Dallas led by double digits for much of the game, including all but the last half-minute of the second half.
Stackhouse was 6-of-11 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line. He dunked twice and hit a variety of jumpers.
Had the Hornets not acquired Dan Dickau from Dallas in a trade Dec. 3, the game could have been even uglier. Dickau was the only Hornet scoring with regularity, finishing with a team-high 18.
Dickau was acquired for Darrell Armstrong, who often started for New Orleans because of Baron Davis’ injuries. But Johnson elected not to play Armstrong in the veteran point guard’s first visit to New Orleans since the trade.
“Dallas has so many weapons,” Dickau said. “They make good decisions. It’s not always the first penetration (of a possession) that leads to baskets. It’s the second and third.”
“Our defense was definitely soft,” Brown said. “Defense sets the tone. We are starting to let teams shoot again. When we start playing good defense again, we’ll play better.”
The Mavericks shot 51.4 percent while holding the Hornets to 37.5 percent in the first half. The Mavericks showed no drop off when bringing in reserves Stackhouse, Harris and Alan Henderson, who combined for 25 points during the first two quarters, compared to 28 for the Hornets starters. The Mavericks took a 54-40 lead into halftime, then opened the third period with three straight scores, including Nowitzki’s steal and driving layup as he was fouled, putting the Mavs up 61-40.
Hornets coach Byron Scott, a former Lakers guard, said there was no basis for talk of him leaving New Orleans to replace the resigning Rudy Tomjanovich in Los Angeles. “I have no interest whatsoever,” Scott said. “I’m extremely happy where I am.” Scott is 8-37 in his first season with New Orleans. His contract pays him a little more than $10 million over three seasons. … The Hornets have lost 11 straight to Dallas. … With the Hornets struggling on defense, George Lynch was subbed into the game in the first quarter for his first action in 10 games. … Andersen had five blocks. He has at least one block in 17 straight games.