ORLANDO, Fla. – Coming off a season-best outing in minutes played and rebounds, there was talk that Elton Brand could supplant Chris Kaman as the Mavericks’ starting center Sunday night against the Orlando Magic.
But coach Rick Carlisle, who has employed 15 different starting lineups during the first 41 games of the season, resisted making a change -- for the moment.
Brand had 10 points and 13 rebounds in 36 minutes off the bench Friday night in the Mavs’ 117-114 overtime loss to Oklahoma City, compared to six points and three rebounds in 16 minutes for Kaman. Brand’s defense, as illustrated by his blocked shot late in the fourth quarter of a tie game Wednesday night against Houston, is a big reason why Carlisle has gone with him over Kaman during crunch time.
Carlisle was tight-lipped when asked before the game whether he would make the switch. Although Brand’s and Kaman’s numbers for January are almost identical, it’s Brand who has consecutive double-doubles on the heels of a 20-point performance in a win over Minnesota.
Dirk Nowitzki made his ninth start in a row. Although he hasn’t had a dominant performance after missing the first 27 games following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, he has had two straight strong fourth quarters.
“He continues to make progress,” Carlisle said. “He’s not all the way there. Coming out of the all-star break – that would be a realistic period of time to where he’ll be back to where he’s going to be.”