Something to monitor in Wednesday night’s Mavs-Hornets rematch in New Orleans: The physicality.
An extra measure of chippiness is always a possibility when teams play each other twice in the space of three days in the regular season, but that’s especially true after an undeniable measure of animus in Dallas’ 98-95 victory.
The Mavs’ Brendan Haywood and New Orleans’ Trevor Ariza, in particular, clearly had a problem with each other Monday night, judging by how they were jawing back and forth. Keep that in mind in case things get chippy again.
Said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, speaking to reporters before the game: “I thought they dished out more physical plays than we did, I really did, and I think we're going to have to be more physical tonight."
Countered Hornets counterpart Monty Williams: "You look at the film and see Chris [Paul] getting slammed to the ground twice. Jerryd [Bayless] goes to the basket, Haywood fakes it like he's trying to block the shot, slams him to the ground and yet Barea's attacking our basket and we're touch-fouling him. You can't have that. When a team establishes that type of physical presence, that's not our style of basketball and you can't ever let your point guard get thrown to the ground like that."
Dallas arrived in New Orleans with a 3-0 road record this season and will be trying to become the first team since Atlanta in 1979-80 to beat a team twice in a row after that team started the season 8-0. The Hawks scored back-to-back wins over Philadelphia that season after the Sixers won their first eight games.
The Hornets, meanwhile, are 5-0 at home this season and have already clinched a tie for the best start in franchise history. Even with a loss, New Orleans would still equal its 8-2 start to the 2007-08 season, when the Hornets won the Southwest Division for the first time with a 56-26 record before beating the Mavs in the first round of the playoffs and then losing to San Antonio in seven games in Round 2.