DALLAS – At this advanced age, doses of Vinsanity aren’t premeditated.
They just happen from time to time when the situation calls for it and Vince Carter's 36-year-old legs are willing and able.
After a couple of sick days, Carter’s legs had a little extra lift Wednesday night, when a turn-back-the-clock dunk highlighted a 17-point performance for the sixth man formerly known as “Half Man, Half Amazing.”
Carter’s driving reverse dunk late in the second quarter definitely fit the amazing description. He blew by Portland center J.J. Hickson with a baseline drive, planted his left foot, soared to the other side of the hoop and threw down a double-pump, two-hand reverse. Carter commemorated the moment with his traditional rev-it-up gesture, but he did it with raised eyebrows, as the slam surprised him as much as anyone.
“That was an out-of-body experience, brother,” Carter said with a big grin after he played a key role in the Mavs' 105-99 win over Portland. “When I did the pump fake, I didn’t say, ‘Oh, I’m going to reverse dunk it.’ Not at all! It just happened. It’s like drive, drive, drive and I don’t know what said, ‘Go on the other side and dunk the ball.’ I don’t think that way anymore.”
Carter believes the last time he threw down a reverse dunk in a game was when he caught a lob pass from Jason Kidd. No, not last season. Back in their days as New Jersey Nets.
That moment of vintage Vinsanity was Carter’s most memorable bucket of the game. His 22-foot fadeaway with 26.9 seconds remaining to beat the shot-clock buzzer and stretch the Mavs’ lead to five points was the most important.
“That’s what he does,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He makes tough shots and plays for others.”
And, occasionally, Carter still makes highlight reels.
A few more notes from the Mavs’ must-have win to start their homestand:
1. Juice gets loose: The controversial ending of last week’s loss in Portland ate at O.J. Mayo. He’ll never get to replay those final 3.3 seconds, when he was called for a charge that the NBA office admitted the next day should have been a blocking foul.
But Mayo made the most out of his next shot at the Blazers, scoring 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting during Wednesday night’s win.
“Mayo was phenomenal tonight, early on attacking and really looked comfortable all night long coming off down screens and attacking off pick-and-rolls, just one or two dribbles and up,” Nowitzki said. “He just looked comfortable all night long. That was fun to watch.”
2. Defensive difference: Coach Rick Carlisle challenged his team to crank up the intensity after the Blazers burned the Mavs for 61 points in the first half, when Portland hit 46.7 percent of its shots from the floor, including 9-of-16 from 3-point range.
The Mavs responded by holding Portland to 38 points on 38.5 percent shooting in the second half. The depth-starved Blazers scored only 17 points on 30 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.
“The intensity level definitely picked up,” big man Elton Brand said. “There starters play heavy minutes, so that might have had something to do with it.”
3. Matrix doubles up again: Shawn Marion put up 13 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double in the last four games.
Marion has 11 double-doubles this season, more than twice the total of any teammate. Brand’s five double-doubles ranks second among the Mavs.