Brendan Haywood runs through the same game-day routine. A long session on the elliptical before the game and then another one after the game. Apparently when logging a career-low 17.8 minutes a game, additional conditioning work is necessary.
But, maybe Haywood is working himself into additional minutes. It's been a tough go for him in his second season with the Dallas Mavericks, but in his last three games he's shown positive signs. He's averaged 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds, both above his season average.
Most impressive has been an array of jump hooks he's displayed and hit against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic. In the last three games, he's made 9-of-14 shots and his 4-of-6 performance in the 84-81 win over the Portland Trail Blazers tied his season-high for shot attempts and was one shy of his season-high for field goals (five back on Oct. 31).
"It's the only shot Eddie Jordan would let me take," Haywood said of his former coach with the Washington Wizards.
What's been impressive about Haywood's recent outburst is that it's come while playing fewer minutes, not more. He put up five points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 10 minutes Saturday against Orlando. He had seven points and four boards -- three offensive -- in 13 minutes against Oklahoma City and four points and six rebounds in 16 minutes against Portland.
Carlisle has said he'd like to keep starting center Tyson Chandler under 30 minutes a game, but that's happened only once in the last six games. Whether Haywood's upswing results in more playing will be seen starting tonight when the Mavs begin a four-game road trip at Indiana.
Now, if he can just do something about that free throw percentage.