Fans in Orlando and Phoenix are wondering where this Vince Carter was the last couple of seasons. Few got excited when the Dallas Mavericks signed the veteran swingman to the mini mid-level exception, $3 million this season, in early December.
Fans in Dallas are getting excited now.
Carter showed positive signs before he sprained his left foot two weeks ago. And upon his return last Friday night, he has put down a three-game showing that has the 35-year-old producing like he's 25.
After he torched the Phoenix Suns on Monday night for 21 points, 15 in the first half, on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc, Carter said watching the club's championship ring ceremony Jan. 25 while he was still out served as a major motivator to put in extra work.
His three-game appears to be proof. Carter has averaged 18.0 points on 21-of-38 shooting overall (55.3 percent) and 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.
“Nothing; just playing, just getting in the flow," Carter said after Monday's 122-99 thrashing of the Steve Nash-less Suns when asked if he's doing anything differently. "With the injury I had some time to get my body right, of course with the foot and just getting healthy. I was just trying to do all the things I could just to get back, step back in and continue to play. So I got a lot of shots up, just working on my body and getting stronger. I don’t have any great secret."
For a third consecutive game, Dallas' offense has started to come around with Dirk Nowitkzi either out the lineup or providing only complementary scoring. He had 10 points for a second consecutive game while the Mavs have put up 116, 101 and 122 points in their last three games after scoring 100 or more in just four of their first 19 games.
Dallas will enjoy a day off today before welcoming the Oklahoma City Thunder to town Wednesday night. Here's three things to consider until then:
1. Dirk's breakout coming?: Nowitzki has averaged fewer than 16 points in 16 games played this season. In the other two games he's played against Oklahoma City, the 7-footer is averaging 27.5 points. In his two games back from a week-long personal training camp in which he missed four games, Nowitzki scored 10 points in each and combined to go just 9-of-24 from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. Can facing the Thunder, a team he averaged 32.2 points against and twice went for 40 or more in the Western Conference finals, reverse his fortunes?
2. Roddy the point guard: After Rodrigue Beaubois had 14 points and seven assists against the Spurs on Sunday, Nowitzki reminded everyone that the youngster will never be the brilliant passer that Kidd is. But, really, how many guys will? Beaubois is just doing his thing and showing that maybe he can handle the point. In his two games as the starting point guard, he has seven assists in each. And really it's three in a row running the point because Kidd left barely two minutes into Friday's game. Beaubois had 22 points and, again, seven assists. The 23-year-old has logged more than 20 minutes in four consecutive games and is averaging 6.5 assists in those games. Prior to that, he had played 20 or more minutes just twice this season. As a side note, Beaubois extended his streak of games with at least one blocked shot to seven.
3. Delonte's big night: One night after we labeled West as heading south because of a few off nights, the scrappy guard goes for a team-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting and nails 5-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. It was West's highest-scoring game since he dropped 27 on Milwaukee on March 6, 2010, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And the last time West made as many as five 3-pointers came Feb. 22, 2009, as a member of the Cavs against Detroit. He was 5-of-5 in that one for 25 points. In Monday's romp over the Suns, West also added six assists and three rebounds to round out his big night.