DALLAS – The Mavericks rank fourth among NBA teams in scoring defense, third in defensive efficiency and have allowed the fewest points in the paint.
They’ve improved significantly in all of those statistical categories since last season, when Tyson Chandler led a defense that was good enough to make a title run. The Mavs ranked 10th in the NBA in scoring defense, eight in defensive efficiency and 11th in points allowed in the paint in 2010-11.
Jason Terry doesn’t want to give big man Brendan Haywood too much credit for the Mavs’ defensive success so far this season. Not because the big man doesn’t deserve it, but Terry wants to make sure that Haywood maintains his edge.
“People talked a lot about Tyson leaving,” Terry said, alluding to the motivational power that might have had with Haywood. “I don’t want to stroke the guy too much, because I like where he’s at right now. I want to keep him mad and worrying that Tyson is gone, but he’s doing a hell of a job. He just has to continue doing what he’s doing.”
The Spurs caught fire from 3-point range to give the Mavs a serious scare Sunday, but Haywood might have had his best defensive performance of the season in the overtime win. He blocked a season-high five shots while holding Tim Duncan to 12 points.
“Look, Haywood’s been great really most of the year,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I mean, the last three weeks he’s been phenomenal. He’s given us great basket coverage. He’s rebounding well. He’s a presence around the basket at both ends of the floor. He’s an anchor for us right now.”