Hornets-Mavericks Preview

Led by a stifling defense, the New Orleans Hornets are the last
unbeaten team in the NBA. To extend their start, they’ll need an
especially impressive effort given the way they’ve struggled
offensively on the road against their next opponent.

The Hornets look to snap a three-game losing streak in Dallas as
they visit the Mavericks on Monday night in the first game of a
home-and-home series between two of the league’s top defensive
teams.

New Orleans (8-0) continued its outstanding start to the season
with a 107-87 win over Portland on Saturday. It was the third
straight game an opponent failed to reach 90 points. For the
season, the Hornets are allowing 89.8 per game – second-fewest in
the NBA behind Milwaukee.

“Defense is where we want to make our staple,” said David West,
who scored 18 points. “We are really drilling and really working
and doing what we have to do in terms of preparation. We’ve been
able to execute the game plan defensively from start to
finish.”

New Orleans also topped 100 points for the fourth time, matching
its season-high output. The Hornets have all five starters
averaging in double figures, led by Chris Paul, who is scoring 17
points to go along with 10.3 assists per game.

“We know our offense is going to come,” said Trevor Ariza, who
had 10 points. “We’ve got players here that can score with the
basketball.”

They’ll hope to carry that over to Dallas, where they have lost
three straight and 16 of 17 while averaging 89.7 points. Paul,
though, has averaged 27.4 points in his last five games there.

The Mavericks (6-2) have also been impressive on defense,
holding opponents to 91.5 points per game – third-best in the NBA.
They won their third straight Friday, a 99-90 victory over
Philadelphia.

Former Hornets center Tyson Chandler had 11 points and 12
rebounds, Brandon Haywood had 17 rebounds and Dirk Nowitzki, who
rolled his right ankle in Wednesday’s win at Memphis, scored 16
points.

Chandler, who spent last season with Charlotte, has two
double-doubles this season after recording five in 51 games in
2009-10. He has scored in double figures in each of the last three
games.

Dallas is averaging 44.0 rebounds, among the league’s leaders,
thanks in large part to Chandler, who is averaging a team-high 8.6
boards. Last season, the Mavericks were tied for 17th in the league
with 41.7 per game.

“(Chandler and Haywood) are both terrific players,” coach Rick
Carlisle said, “and right now they’ve got a tag team thing going
that’s helping us. When Tyson comes out he gets Brendan fired up.
They’re getting a lot done for us.”

Caron Butler missed his second straight game Friday with back
spasms. He is day-to-day but listed in Dallas’ starting lineup for
Monday. Shawn Marion started the two games he was out, totaling 36
points and 12 rebounds.

“We’ve got a deep team,” said J.J. Barea, who had a season-high
19 points. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can score.”

The teams will meet again Wednesday in New Orleans.