Rapid Reaction: Mavs 96, Hornets 81

How it happened: The Mavs had the good fortune of playing a bad team that didn’t have its best player and took advantage of it.

Let’s be honest: This wasn’t a pretty performance by the Mavericks, even with some spectacular slam dunks. It was an especially ugly outing for their superstar as Dirk Nowitzki struggled for the second consecutive game, scoring only 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting.

But the Mavs, minus injured floor general Jason Kidd, did get great balance. Nowitzki was one of six Mavs to score in double figures, a pack led by spot starter Vince Carter (13 points, 5-11 FG) and reserve center Ian Mahinmi (13 points, 5-6 FG).

Dallas also played respectable defense against a New Orleans squad that was missing Eric Gordon, the Hornets’ only really dangerous scoring threat.

What it means: The defending champs are back to within a win of .500 after washing the nasty taste of Thursday night’s lopsided loss to the Spurs out of their mouth. They’ll get a couple of days of rest and prep before another four-games-in-five-nights grind.

Play of the game: It was a vintage Vinsanity moment. Carter beat Marco Belinelli baseline and soared waaaaaay up for the finish in Emeka Okafor’s face. Carter took off as he hit the paint, cocked the ball back with his right hand and threw it down hard, just like he used to do on a regular basis back in the day.

Stat of the night: All 11 Mavericks who got on the floor in the first half scored. By comparison, the Mavericks had 11 field goals in the first half in Thursday night’s loss to the Spurs.