DALLAS With this relentless NBA schedule, it's nice to mix in a laugher every now and then. And for once, the Dallas Mavericks put an opponent out of its misery early in the second half with a 102-84 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
It was 12-point game at halftime, but the injury-ravaged Nuggets never showed signs of life in this game. The worst part for the Mavs was the loss of guard Delonte West to a gruesome injury in the second quarter. Teammate Vince Carter still cringed two hours later at the memory of seeing West's fractured right ring finger, which included blood and a protruding bone. Replays on the AAC video screen drew a collective gasp from the crowd. It's hard to imagine West returning to the lineup any time soon, which leaves the Mavs in a precarious situation. Shooting guard Jason Terry missed the game with a sore quadriceps and will also miss Friday's game in Philadelphia for personal reasons. And Roddy Beaubois wasn't available Wednesday due to the unexpected death of his father.
"We obviously have some upheaval now with the roster guys with injuries and personal situations," said Carlisle. "It's a bit of a scramble, but we've got a good scramble team. We're gonna just have to piece it together here."
The Mavs (19-11) held the highest scoring team in the league to 20 points below its average (104.1), although three Nuggets starters were missing. Dallas will now play in back-to-back national TV road games against the 76ers and Knicks. And yes, some of the Mavs were willing to look ahead to Sunday's matchup with New York point guard Jeremy Lin, who led his team to a seventh consecutive win Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings (10 points, 13 assists). The one Mavs player who seemed almost offended by the topic was Shawn Marion, a man who's far more comfortable discussing his own accomplishments.
"It's about us," said Marion, who reminded reporters of the Mavs' current five-game winning streak. "It's not about anyone else."
Lamar Odom, one of six Mavs in double figures Wednesday, was much more forthcoming about Lin's improbable rise with the Knicks. Odom's a Queens native, so he has a sense of how starved fans at Madison Square Garden have been for a winning team.
"At the end of the day, I'm a New York Knicks fan," said Odom. "That's always who I'm going to root for when I'm a fan."
Mavs power forwardcenter Brandan Wright played with Lin at Golden State and remembers how good he looked in practices. Like a lot of players around the league, Wright can't wait to get home and watch Lin's highlights on TV.
"I knew the guy was talented before all this happened," said Wright, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds Wednesday. "I didn't have any idea he would pull this off on such a big stage, but it's all about getting opportunities in this league. And he's obviously seizing this one."
Wright's having a breakthrough season of his own as he continues to take minutes away from backup center Ian Mahinmi. He prefers playing power forward, but he's also a weapon at center. On Wednesday, Wright revealed to FOXSportsSouthwest.com that Terry gave him a DVD before the season that featured former center Tyson Chandler setting picks at the top of the key and rolling to the basket. He watched the video religiously in an attempt to figure out where he needed to be on the floor.
"I learned how to roll to the best spots to catch the ball," said Wright, a former No. 8 overall pick who had to overcome two major shoulder injuries after being selected by the Warriors out of North Carolina in 2007. "It really helped me to read where the defense was going to go after I set the pick."
Carter, one of three former Tar Heels on the Mavs roster, has been impressed with how hard Wright works in practice. And he believes the 6-10, 210-pound player is on the verge of developing a mid-range game.
"You can't teach athleticism," said Carter. "He's a shot blocker who can play the 4 and the 5. When you land in the right system, you have to make the best of it. And he's doing that."
On Sunday, Lin and Wright will be reunited in the Garden. But something tells me one of those players will receive a bit more attention.